SOURCE: Wright Business Technologies

November 20, 2013 17:12 ET

This Is One Business Acronym That Could Destroy Your Business - OMG

Cost Cutting BYOD Practices Invite Hackers, Harvesters, Security Breaches

THE WOODLANDS, TX--(Marketwired - November 20, 2013) - With the explosion of personal communication devices, companies have worked hard to capture the productivity increases they provide. Employees are "always-on, always connected" and often footing the bill for their smart phones, tablets, and service contracts themselves. This Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model is a cost-cutter's dream. However, for the IT department serving small, mid-size and even greater scaled businesses that must accommodate any and every device that comes to the office -- and still promote a high standard of security and ensure the safety of corporate and customer data -- it is a nightmare. 

In 2012 and 2013, big technology players have been singing the praises of BYOD. Intel declared it had 19,000 BYOD users and a 5 million-hour productivity gain in 2012. Cisco polled thousands of users across six countries in a report delivered in 2013 said 89 percent use BYOD, for 37 minutes in work gained each week and potential savings of $1,300 per year for users. BYOD feels inevitable for its ability to broaden worker's easy access to their projects wherever and whenever they want, in the way they want it.

Security professionals have spent 2013 playing a dizzying game of catch up. Coming from a standard where employees were issued a corporate laptop full of passwords and firewall protections, told not to conduct personal matters on it, and directed to head to their IT department for new applications and updates, the BYOD model is fraught with peril.

"Nobody wants to find themselves on the front page of the newspaper for losing client data," says Stephen Wright, president of Wright Business Technologies, a corporate IT-solutions provider in Houston, Tex. "You have a health care staff member with a spreadsheet of patient transactions on a smart phone or tablet because they're doing a performance analysis. For whatever reason, they leave it at a restaurant, or taxi cab and suddenly whoever finds it has private patient data such as medical history, social security numbers, or simply company data such as bank account numbers, employee data, etc. This is happening."

IT departments prove their worth through successful planning and network implementation. Workers who bring devices from home turn that model upside-down, downloading cheapie apps, keeping a list of corporate and personal passwords on their smart phones, and mingling corporate and personal data by design.

"A lot of people say, 'I have nothing to hide, I don't need any of this stuff protected,'" Wright says. "In today's society everybody has something to hide. Employee data, Client Data, Healthcare data, credit card info, etc. You may think you have nothing to hide, but you have much more than you realize". Emails with salaries or spreadsheets with company financials can be accessed by employees with the right motivation and easy access to coworker's devices, for example. 

A few basic IT solutions can bring peace of mind to company executives while allowing employees to pursue those productivity gains. Passwords alone would be an upgrade for many phone users who think of their phones as personal accessories, rather than gateways to corporate information. Ideally, a comprehensive Mobile Device Management (MDM) strategy would be implemented.

Mobile Device Management allows the business to maintain security for the business by forcing policies onto the device such as password and other security requirements. In many cases, MDM can segregate Corporate applications and data from the personal data adding another level or protection as well such as the ability to wipe the device clean if needed.

While BYOD can offer cost reductions for business, if done improperly, the risks far outweigh the savings. But Wright insists, "With smart policies and management, organizations can benefit from the BYOD model and still avoid the risks."

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