Study: More adopting BYOD but few understand concept and its risks

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Among the many buzzwords in the IT world,  BYOD was one of the most talked about this year. The phenomenon known as “bring-your-own-device,” which refers to employees bringing their own equipment into the corporate environment, was boosted by the launch of devices with friendlier interfaces. Analysts predicted that the Apple’s iPhone 5 would enhance BYOD when it was launched.

According to Ovum, nearly 70% of all smartphone-owning professionals are now using their personal devices to access corporate data, but almost 80% of today’s BYOD activity remains inadequately managed by IT departments.

This situation leaves businesses not only at risk of losing data but unable to claim they took reasonable preventative measures. Indeed, BYOD requires IT teams to set policies letting employees know what they can and cannot do. The trend is also boosting the market for mobile device management (MDM) tools.

Ovum’s study of 4,000 full-time employees found a disturbing level of ignorance among IT professionals about the BYOD trend. For nearly half of the respondents, their employers’ IT departments either did not know about BYOD or were ignoring its existence, operating a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, while another 8.1% actively discouraged it.

According to Ovum, the level of ignorance in IT departments was significantly higher in mature economies with more rigid working practices, such as those in continental Europe, compared to those in high-growth economies such as Brazil, India and South Africa.

Richard Absalom, senior analyst at Ovum, pointed out that BYOD multiplies the number of networks, applications and end-points through which data is accessed. “These are the three main points at which data is vulnerable; so, if left unmanaged, BYOD creates a huge data security risk,” he said in a statement.

In a recent experiment, Blue Coat tracked the bandwidth burden of one employee with two iOS devices (an iPhone and iPad). For just those two weeks, the bandwidth impact on the corporate network was more than 13 GB. Bandwidth-consuming activities on smartphones include OS updates; app downloads; photo and video uploads; video and rich media downloads; and backup to cloud storage.

Other key points that Ovum highlighted:

  •  50% of employees say privacy concerns would stop them from accessing their own personal apps on a corporate provisioned smartphone.
  •  For half of all employees, a corporately provisioned smartphone or tablet is not a perfect substitute for a personally owned device, and this will continue to give momentum to the BYOD trend.

2 Responses to “Study: More adopting BYOD but few understand concept and its risks”

  1. There are at least two issues: the privacy of the individual, and the security of confidential company information. Since employees will continue to use their own devices, there is a need for device partitioning as well as a means of mitigating the network vulnerabilities. The trouble is that not enough people realize how distressingly easy it is to hack a device wirelessly. Or a thousand devices. The more we can get the word out about the real risks of BYOD, the more people will start ‘wearing their seat belts’. Thanks for spreading the results of this study!

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