Help Your Customers 'COPE' With BYOD

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Abe RomeroBy Abe Romero

Acronyms run rampant over the business landscape, and the excessive use of the BYO terminology is convoluted and extraneous. If CEOs and CIOs – not to mention channel partners – are not confused now, they soon will be as new technology, applications and software are developed and take on the dreaded “BYO" prefix. Besides Bring Your Own Device, the expanding list also includes BYOA (Bring Your Own Application), BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) and BYON (Bring Your Own Network) — just to name a few.

The BYOD landscape has evolved so much over the past few years that the new terminology needs clarification as well as a clear understanding of how companies will address the challenges of each BYO focus.

Bring Your Own Application (BYOA). Personal applications are a major part of everyday work life. Employees use their own applications – file-sharing apps, messaging tools, email – to increase work performance. File sync and cloud applications like Dropbox are popular and are much more prevalent for personal use than work. The exposure of company data in this scenario is a forgone conclusion.

IT departments’ initial responsibilities included securing, encrypting and locating personal devices. Now those have expanded to include provisioning useful apps. For Android devices, the threat is especially real as malicious apps that mimic legitimate apps number as many as 11 new types per hour. Intelligent personal assistant applications such as Siri also add security risks due to voice-to-text conversion. What you ask, sensitive or not, is filtered through outside servers and people can see that information. To combat the increased security risk, Gartner is predicting that by 2017, enterprises will provide their own app store to accommodate the 25 percent increase in the number of smartphones and tablets in the workplace.

Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). BYOT is a broader view of BYOD that enables employees to bring their personally owned devices and software to work. Employees benefit by having familiarity with their own devices and preferred software. The downsides to BYOT are heavily weighted toward the company with increased risk to loss of data only retrievable through the employee’s software and devices.

The reality is that BYOT is a relatively new phenomenon (since 2005) and something that has a big potential for catastrophic security issues. Regulatory issues, including Sarbanes-Oxley, also need to be considered. For employees, additional levels of authentication may be required when accessing devices and certain software. While companies may appear permissive with devices, they cannot afford to operate without an ironclad policy.

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