One of the hottest trends in business technology is having employees bring in their personal devices to the office for work purposes. This trend is commonly referred to as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and before you blindly follow the trend and allow BYOD for your business, you should first weigh the benefits against the risks.
There are several benefits to BYOD. Employees get to use personal devices that they’re attached to, which increases satisfaction while theoretically improving productivity. Additionally, your staff will gain mobile capabilities by being able to use their personal devices to work from anywhere. All of these benefits sound great, but many businesses are learning that, in light of BYOD privacy issues, the benefits of BYOD may not be enough to offset the liability attached with privacy concerns.
BYOD Blurs the Lines of Privacy
The YO in BYOD can be a little misleading, because as soon as an employee connects their personal device to the corporate network and downloads company applications, their device is subject to the same controls that an employer has over any company-owned equipment like workstations. These corporate controls have the potential to be more involved than just blocking dangerous websites. Thanks to mobile device management software, employers can keep a very close eye on their workers through their own devices.
How close of an eye can an employer keep on their workers with BYOD? In extreme cases, an employer can watch their employee’s every move through the device’s camera. Other less-extreme-yet-still-intrusive privacy concerns include the ability for an employer to know an employee’s location using GPS and triangulation, monitor device usage (including browsing habits), collect personally identifiable information, and even wipe personal data like files, pictures, and music.
BYOD Privacy Must be Taken Seriously
Not that you would abuse your BYOD power and overstep privacy boundaries, but the fact that you could is enough make your employees and your legal department uncomfortable with BYOD. In light of privacy concerns, the central issue of BYOD boils down to trust, and studies show that employees trust their employers about as far as they can throw them. Don’t take this revelation about lack of trust personally, trust is a two-way street. There is a reason why you give employees security codes and have a lock on your office door.
In a recent BYOD survey by Harris, three out of five employee respondents wouldn’t let their employer install an app on their smartphone or even allow their employer to view what personal apps are already installed on their device. The same survey shows that 82% of respondents are concerned about employers tracking website browsing on their personal devices, and 86% are concerned about the unauthorized deletion of personal data.
Is BYOD Worth It?
With such a high level of mistrust, an employer allowing a skeptical workforce to use their personal devices in the workplace will be opening their company up to liability and lawsuits if the blurry privacy line is crossed. This includes personal information being accidentally deleted or viewed. The best way to deal with these BYOD risks is to either have an airtight BYOD policy in place that covers your butt and has been given the stamp of approval by an attorney specializing in business technology, or to disallow BYOD altogether.
Ultimately, it’s your call to allow BYOD or not. Before you make such an important decision, it’s good to consider all of the BYOD risks. TMS can help you with our IT consulting service. Give us a call at 1 (626) 737-2960 and talk to us about the unique needs of your business so we can find you privacy solutions that allow you to get the most out of BYOD and all of your technology!