05 Aug 2013

BYOD: What to watch out for

We all want BYOD at our workplaces. However BYOD is a relatively new technology trend that is only a few years old and some early adopters have had their fair share of mishaps. As pitfalls are exposed, best practices are emerging. Here are a few pitfalls that early adopters have encountered, along with ways to avoid them.

Allowing your staff to download any app they want

Most users visit the app store regularly downloading all types of different apps from Angry Birds to Drop box. These apps can be dangerous to the enterprise and can lead to data leakage, open the doors to malware and cause unproductive behaviour. Take control before it gets out of hand by building private enterprise app stores, developing custom apps and creating a list of blacklisted and whitelisted apps with restrictions. It’s the IT department’s role to find the middle ground by creating a virtual perimeter that allows staff to use certain apps at different locations. Geofencing also prevents employees from downloading hi-def videos on their BYOD tablets and clogging up the network.

Monitoring activity and usage

Some early adopters went overboard in trusting their staff and didn’t track talk, text and data usage, leading to thousands of dollars in costs. Trust is a two-way street so it’s important to track how devices are being used.

Allowing rogue BYOD devices

On one hand BYOD allows staff to choose their device for work, essentially making employees more familiar and productive with the technology. These devices are within a hands reach during out of work hours and weekends. The power of choice is a great benefit of BYOD. However, IT Managers need to put restrictions and limitations on personal choice. Realistically you can’t just use any device onto the corporate network. The best response is to support the most popular devices or provide a list of devices that your company will support.

Poor communication about BYOD between the IT department and staff

The biggest pitfall of all is a lack of communication. Employees need to know what will and won’t be monitored, what apps are dangerous to the company and what kinds of devices and operating systems are allowed. They need to understand what the expectations are for privacy, what will happen if devices are lost and the consequences for non-compliance. Detail is important when creating a BYOD policy. Don’t only get into the ‘here are some things to be aware of’ but also discuss obligations and rights for both your company and the staff. Written by William Lam, Senior Solutions Architect.