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Security: Article

Defining BYOD Policies

In 2013, analysts say there was an 81% growth of mobile devices worldwide.

The rise of mobile is still going strong and it shows no signs of stopping!, In 2013, analysts say there was an 81% growth of mobile devices worldwide.

Actually, according to the new Cisco report - "Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update" - the mobile traffic in 2013 was 18 times the size of the entire internet in 2000. The study reports that in 2013 the internet traffic per user averaged 356MB of data a month. Even more amazing, is that the trend expects it to increase to 3GB per user in 2018.

All of these changes - the use of mobile data, the internet of things - all have real world applications on our businesses. Now, if you've been getting comfortable with BYOD so far, be careful with the expected twists and turns. More and more devices are being introduced to the market, new services and apps as well. Despite the turbulent start, everyone seems to be jumping on the BYOD wagon; but some companies, who are not planning ahead, should really start looking forward for those upcoming pot holes. CIOs can expect real security threats to emerge, hidden costs, legal affairs with employees and many other issues... The solution? An effective policy covering all angles of the BYOD practice from all its perspectives and of course an MDM tool.

Over the last months organizations' employees have embraced the BYOD practices, CIOs are concerned about security issues, lawyers have given their advice, and MDM vendors have taken their message to the companies. But while CIOs try to come up with the best solution to police this practice, users continue to buy more products and increase the type of devices.

Aberdeen considers that understanding what is going on is a must. They ran a survey this January to find out that 3 of 4 responders have a BYOD program in place; yet two thirds of these plans are not enforcing compliance, security, or legal policies.

Mark Charleton from Blue Solutions told us that CIOs are concerned and thankful with the MDM vendors for pushing their messages of compliance and security to the business managers. This helps them to take this topic to the management table in order to become a BYOD enabler together with the other operational areas including HR, Sales, Marketing, Operations and Legal.

However, all these concerns about hidden costs and hard-to-measure worker productivity don't matter to the employees as their convenience to have business and personal lives blended in one single device. Somehow the tables have turned, the employees are in the driver's seat!

The Dirty Little Secret

Horror... horror!

When it comes to BYOD expense reporting, employee's behavior isn't exactly criminal, but it is cheating. The temptation to submit a huge expense report for the personal smartphone that might have been used for work purposes could be too high to resist.

According to the mobile consultancy "Network Sourcing Advisors," even when the BYOD policies clearly state otherwise employees include their family plans, upgraded phones and termination fees to their BYOD expense plans. Executive globe-trotters would rack up huge international charges and float them past the inattentive eyes of finance.

Companies often counter this abuse by putting a monthly stipend or cap on reimbursement. But let's be honest, most people will ask for the highest stipend and sign up for the biggest data plan so that they won't be hit with overage charges.

The fact is that employees don't really want to pay for their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. They just want an easy-to-use device for their work and their personal life, and of course it is better if the company pays the bill.

This trend is racing towards chaos in the 2014. The number of smartphones, tables and even Laptops under the BYOD umbrella is increasing by day. Complications and confusions are forcing changes to BYOD policies.

Can you COPE?

Some few companies have enabled a hybrid approach called COPE - Company Owned, Personal Enabled - model. COPE is the opposite of BYOD. Businesses using a COPE strategy provide their employees with IT devices and gadgets to be used and managed by them; the companies maintain ownership of such devices, so they can monitor and control their activity to a complete degree. Besides business purposes, employees can use their devices for their personal activities. COPE may be a less expensive option that BYOD, in which employees are often reimbursed for all or part of the cost of the devices they buy. This is because if the company buys devices, it can generally get them for less than retail price. COPE also gives the company more power in terms of policing and protecting devices, thus reducing many of the BYOD risks.

In 2014 and 2015 companies not using COPE will put practical BYOD programs and policies in place. Both mobile models imply the need to accelerate the businesses and move to SaaS. To those that can't COPE, modernize their core applications and become mobile friendly will become a must.

More Strict BYOD Policies

Let's face it, not all companies have budget enough to COPE; so BYOD will yet continue to be a growing trend. Sooner or later, these companies will need to develop effective BYOD policies. Policies should be defined in each area according to the employees activities and needs, to then be detailed and defined mainly by the Finance, Human Resources, and Legal departments that will be in charge of the available budgets and the legal implications that follow.

Once these policies are set up, they can be merged with an MDM tool, this way all the devices would be safely managed and controlled by the responsible areas.

BYOD Lawsuits Loom as Work Gets Personal

Will BYOD lead to a rash of lawsuits from employees who feel violated? Or maybe a headline-grabbing, class-action lawsuit? Companies better make sure they have an explicit terms-of-use BYOD agreement.

Like most tragic love stories, the BYOD affair may end up abruptly. In the early days of BYOD, say, 2013, employees fell madly in love with the idea of using their own iPhones, Android smartphones and new tablets for work. They could finally ditch corporate-issued and boring cell phones.

In a beginning BYOD promised that employees and employers would live happily ever after. But the BYOD romance suddenly turned sour. Employees are now questioning the intrusion of corporate eyes on their personal devices. Why did the Internal IT turn their beloved smartphone into a spy that tracks their whereabouts? Employees are beginning to sense companies taking advantage of BYOD by intruding on personal time to get free work time.

If CIOs have hourly employees with BYOD smartphones, they might want to leverage MDM to control the company's email security and delivery rules to those devices; meaning, they can set a business rule that won't allow delivery of corporate email to a subset of users during off-hours. This rule should be also addressed in the BYOD terms-of-use agreement. This is just an example, and the tip of the iceberg.

John Timko, Marketing Director in LabTec Software explained that MDM software has thankfully advanced quickly and has come up with a fix. Now companies can control only corporate apps from a BYOD smartphone or tablet, leaving personal apps untouched. While this helps tremendously, it doesn't completely solve the problem.

Let's say a company buys the popular productivity app, Evernote, for employees to put on their BYOD smartphones. Since the company paid for the app, the company can remove it at any time regardless of the personal data the employee may have added such as a shopping list, recipes, vacation plans, or perhaps something more critical to their job.

In conclusion, companies need to have better protections against employee's lawsuits regarding the BYOD practice, a well developed terms-of-use agreement, and leverage MDM to ensure this agreement is followed. Truth is, employees tend to get a bit emotional when their privacy is being violated or their location is being tracked via a mobile device that they personally own. They don't like their personal data to be seen or wiped, either. When these things happen, companies can expect the wrath of a scorned employee.

More Stories By Monica Paul

Monica Paul is a marketer with 20 years experience in local, regional, and global marketing strategies. In 2001, after 8 years working as an employee for several IT companies such as Micrografx and Visio; Monica founded Marcomtec, marketing firm giving services initially to the IT industry that then diversified to other industries. In 2013 Monica launched, Magic MasterMinds (www.magicmasterminds.com), a marketing platform to help writers all over the world to market their books leveraging this way reading as a daily activity.