Workers have been demanding to use their own laptops, tablets and smartphones for work and many companies are now letting them do just that. But what are the pitfalls and where are the solutions?
According to industry analyst, TechMarketView, the "bring your own device" (BYOD) movement is seeing a rapid increase in adoption both by employers and staff, with five million employees already taking advantage of BYOD by 2011. This will rise to around 9.5 million by 2016 - an increase of 80 per cent - according to TechMarketView.
Furthermore, YouGov research into the habits of 2,000 office workers shows that, in a typical week, almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of employees now use one or more personal devices - for example, a smartphone - to do their work. Nearly half (45 per cent) use two or more devices, confirming the widespread take-up of BYOD strategies at firms.
Unfortunately, the research shows that widespread adoption of BYOD is not leading to increased mobile security vigilance from staff, thereby increasing the strain on UK businesses’ security operations and their ability to protect their data.
Over one-third (34 per cent) of office workers with a personal device have failed to update their personal device security in the last six months, while a further third of those (11 per cent) have never installed or updated security for their own devices.
Recent guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) clarifies that companies are accountable for the loss of data by their employees, irrespective of whether it was on a personal or work device.
Almost a fifth (18 per cent) of staff in the YouGov research say that they have seen their personal gadgets compromised in the past six months, so widespread ICO fines (up to £500,000 for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act) on companies through security lapses on personal devices are drawing nearer.
On the other hand, over a quarter of office workers (27 per cent) in the YouGov research claim their company has not outlined any sort of policy on using their personal device for work purposes.
A third of office employees (30 per cent) think they should be made directly responsible for data loss or theft, with 44 per cent saying both they and the company should be equally responsible. Only 13 per cent thought it was solely the company’s responsibility.
Vincent Geake, director of secure mobility at BAE Systems Detica, which commissioned the YouGov research, said: “There is a willingness of staff to engage in the security debate and to share the responsibility for security, but they are really looking for employers to take the lead."
Security isn't the only problem when it comes to BYOD. Employees that are using their own smartphones for work rank connectivity costs as the least important factor when choosing a mobile network, creating the potential for "bill shock" for enterprises that don't have cost control policies as part of their BYOD plans.
Enterprise Wi-Fi connectivity firm iPass surveyed 1,700 mobile employees worldwide and found that the proportion of workers’ smartphones provisioned by employers has declined from 58 to 33 per cent, while self-provisioning has risen to 46 per cent, up from 42 per cent last year.
“With more workers turning to their smartphones for work, data usage is growing rapidly across multiple devices. As this BYOD trend continues to explode enterprises are seeing the effects both in rising productivity and in rising network costs," noted Evan Kaplan, CEO of iPass.
He added: "Employees are using more data with more devices to work longer hours and they're willing to connect with little regard for cost. Enterprises must stay in front of the BYOD challenge by providing cost-effective connectivity for mobile workers wherever they roam," said Kaplan.
iPass is allowing companies and their IT departments to get a tighter handle on their BYOD mobile connection costs.
The company has launched its Open Mobile Express service, which allows mobile workers to use the iPass global Wi-Fi network on their own devices, but instead of the company or IT department being billed for use, the end user or their individual department gets the bill.
The end user downloads the iPass client software on their device and starts using it to connect to the iPass network after their IT department or company has negotiated the individual connection rates with iPass first.
With BYOD, says iPass, users often run up exhorbitant mobile data bills by automatically connecting to the networks operated by their mobile phone provider, often because there is no readily available Wi-Fi network open to them.
With Open Mobile Express, companies and IT departments can offer their mobile employees an enterprise class Wi-Fi service, and the accompanying security, with no upfront costs. It is billed to the end user or their department as and when they use it, as an alternative to more expensive mobile operator networks.
The iPass Wi-Fi network consists of over one million wireless hotspots worldwide. Open Mobile Express is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows-based smartphones, tablets and laptops.
On the question of corporate data security and the enforcement of company access policies, BlackBerry has made its BYOD work/private data technology available for Apple and Google Android devices. The offering is designed to make it easier for firms that want to run mixed BlackBerry, Apple and Android mobile environments.
Unveiled back in June, BlackBerry's Secure Work Space for iOS and Android is a system that separates work and personal apps and data on iOS and Android devices. It is part of the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 platform, which already supports the new BlackBerry 10 operating system found on newly-launched BlackBerry smartphones (like the BlackBerry Z10, the BlackBerry Q10 and the BlackBerry Q5).
BlackBerry provides security at the device, server and network levels and is hoping its strong security technology will tempt companies that have to manage the growing number of Apple and Android users in the workplace. The Secure Work Space container is managed through BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, allowing all devices to be managed from a single console.
Other MDM systems
There are other mobile device management (MDM) platforms on the market. 3CX has also just launched its 3CX Mobile Device Manager version 6.3 system for securely managing Android mobile devices in the workplace. 3CX Mobile Device Manager version 6.3 provides Android manageability by allowing administrators to remotely configure corporate email, and retain control of the sensitive data stored in email and attachments.
In addition, the 3CX DroidDesktop platform has also been integrated into the 3CX Mobile Device Manager version 6.3 system, to give administrators the ability to remotely control both Android smartphones and tablets. Companies can now delete all corporate emails as well as the attachments that are stored on the device when an employee leaves the company.
SAP has also introduced the latest version of its MDM system, with the aim of providing closer enterprise application integration and improved support for BYOD policies.
The updated SAP Afaria enterprise mobility management (EMM) system includes new app and self-service portal designs to provide a familiar, consumer-like app portal experience in the enterprise to support BYOD working.
"The latest release of SAP Afaria aims to remove complexity and support the growing mobile workforce by helping to ensure that all data stored and transmitted via a mobile device is protected and secure," said SAP.
"It will allow users to remotely back up and delete data if a device is lost or stolen, said SAP, and "more easily deliver fixes, upgrades and refreshes to mobile users."
Case study A: British American Tobacco
British American Tobacco (BAT) has embarked on a company-wide mobilisation strategy with the help of a new MDM platform. BAT is using the Excitor DME (dynamic mobile exchange) system to help meet strict data security requirements and support the company's business goals for mobility. The company also wanted to support staff using their own iPhone, iPad and Android devices at work.
The Excitor system gives BAT "complete control over corporate data on mobile devices, without compromising the privacy of staff's personal data, which is kept separate and private to the user," the tobacco firm said.
Phil Colman, chief information officer at BAT, commented: "With the pace, scale and complexity of our business increasing, our workforce needs the tools to support them in doing their job, in the way they wish to do it."
He continued: "However, with the rapid development of new and more powerful smartphones it would be expensive to keep pace with new technology and provide these as 'secured' corporate devices."
Colman added that DME enables BAT to securely separate corporate data from personal files, allowing the use of employees' personal devices at work for the first time.
Excitor's application mobilisation platform, AppBox, also offers the flexibility to create and deploy business applications on the "corporate" area of the mobile device, and provide secure access to services such as the BAT intranet or holiday approval system.
Colman said the mobile management system would be used in over 180 countries to support 20,000 mobile workers "over the next few years."
Case study B: Ford
Ford Motor Company is also deploying a new security system to support its BYOD strategy around the world.
Ford has gone to Good Technology to provide protection for the personal mobile devices used by thousands of its employees globally. The "Good for Enterprise" platform will be used to protect the corporate email and other applications carried on smartphones, tablets and other devices by Ford staff.
Ford said its new BYOD protection system would provide "streamlined management and support" for a broader range of employee-owned mobile devices, and a "simplified end-user experience".
The company said the system would also provide "flexibility for employees to seamlessly integrate personal and work priorities." There would also be reduced costs associated with enterprise mobility functions across the organisation, it added.
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