BYOD policy a boon to business – but be careful say IT experts

Over 80 per cent of IT managers think that enterprises with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy hold a competitive advantage over other organisations, according to research commissioned by BT.

Keith Matthews, General Manager, BT Global Services Sub-Sahara Africa. (Image: BT)

The research, which surveyed attitudes towards employees’ use of their own laptops, tablets and smartphones for work, covered 2,000 IT users and IT managers in 11 countries and from a range of sectors. It suggests that BYOD has arrived – over four in five companies say they already allow BYOD or will do within the next 24 months and sixty per cent of employees claim they are already allowed to connect personally-owned devices to the corporate network.

The study reveals that both employees and decision makers are positive about the opportunities presented by the growing use of personal devices on corporate networks. Sixty four per cent of IT managers think that having a BYOD policy will enable employees to be more productive. Forty-eight per cent think it will also allow employees to work more flexibly and 47 per cent think it will enable employees to serve customers better. This sentiment is shared by employees – 42 per cent of employees using their own device for work believe that they are more efficient and productive as a result.

Despite these benefits IT managers are nervous. Only one in ten think that all BYOD users recognise the risks and less than one in five believe all users understand the access/permissions related to their mobile devices. And it appears IT managers are nervous with some justification. Of employees who use their own device for work, one in three see “no risk” in using their own device in a work context and just a quarter recognise the significant risk they pose to company security.

Keith Matthews, General Manager, BT Global Services Sub-Sahara Africa, said: “There is no denying it. The BYOD genie is out of the bottle bringing with it unprecedented opportunities for enterprises but also new threats. The new perimeter is everywhere, defined by employee-owned devices, clouds, and extranets. The risk of abuse and attack has multiplied along with this massive expansion.

“To meet these challenges head-on, enterprises need to have a clear policy, a combination of the right tools to implement it, the trust with which to deliver it to employees and the processes in the business that everyone understands and buys into. IT security has always been about a blend of people, policy, process and technology, and the right blend is even more critical in a BYOD world. Rather than being perceived as a barrier to agility or flexibility, security can act as an enabler which improves an organisation’s ability to adapt to the BYOD trend.”

Thirty nine per cent of enterprises have experienced a security breach due to employees bringing in unauthorised devices – most commonly in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and pharmaceuticals sectors.  More than four out of five (83 per cent) of IT decision makers believe that putting 24/7 access to corporate systems into the hands of an increasingly mobile workforce is now the main threat to corporate IT security.

Matthews added: “So while pressure to allow BYOD is high, IT decision-makers need to tackle a range of issues before they feel able to introduce a BYOD policy. Security is the highest priority, with 73 per cent of IT managers stating that they first had to overcome the security challenges of BYOD.

“That’s the thinking behind BT Assure. We work with our customers to navigate the complexity and ensure they have appropriate policies, procedures, solutions in place to take advantage of the benefits presented by BYOD without compromising security.”

Staff Writer