Face up to BYOD

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With the news that more than 40% of companies do not consider the 'bring your own device' (BYOD) trend to be on their agenda, IT and communications industry experts are warning that sooner or later they will have to face up to BYOD, whether they want to or not.

BYOD describes the growing trend among employees to use their own IT resources – laptops, netbooks, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices for work purposes, both in the office and while out and about or working from home.

A report by ChannelWeb.co.uk says that in addition to the 40% that don't have BYOD on their agenda, 34% of respondents felt apathetic or had 'mixed feelings' about the concept of BYOD. Only a quarter were positive about BYOD and said that their employer had embraced the idea.

Managing Director of Qubic, communications and cloud computing specialist, Chris Papa comments: "While BYOD has proven to be popular with staff, has boosted productivity and increased job satisfaction where it has been adopted, there are certain issues that have to be addressed by organisations considering a BYOD approach. There are questions about ownership, security, data protection, as well as a need to ensure a clear BYOD policy is in place. It is understandable that many don't want to tackle these issues, but they need to wake up to the reality that BYOD is coming whether they like it or not and sooner or later they are going to have to deal with it. Employees are using their own devices and bringing them into work regardless of their employers' views. Undecided employers will have to climb down off the fence and either prohibit BYOD for work completely, blocking access to their systems and their clients' data, or apply sufficient controls to protect their own and their clients' data."

One way employers can mitigate some of the risk is by using a cloud-based virtualised model which ensures that no sensitive data sits on local platforms. Any work, whatever device is used to access it, is stored on a server and only the virtualised application gets accessed from the mobile device. In this way data remains largely secure. Indeed this approach ensures that data need never be stored on any easily misplaced local device; CD, laptop or USB stick, again. As long as users have access to a dedicated mobile app or web browser, they can use company data and virtualised applications.

Despite the fact that several respondents to the survey reportedly went so far as to describe BYOD as 'bring your own disaster', their organisations are going to have take the issue on as their staff will undoubtedly start trying to access enterprise applications and data on their smartphones and tablets if they haven't already.

Chris Papa concludes: "The employer and employee must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Of paramount importance is ensuring that the benefits BYOD has to offer, do not compromise the security of the workplace."

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