This is a new acronym that we believe will become increasingly common over the next few years. The general meaning behind it is that more people will bring their own devices (phones, tablets, computers, etc) to work and use them for work – sorry to disappoint those who thought it might mean something else . While this can be great for employees (preferred device is used) and companies (reduce capital outlay costs), it can be very problematic for companies that want to ensure device and data security. Furthermore, employees may feel like companies have more ability to snoop into their private lives which are on these dual use devices.
There are a couple of interesting articles written about this recently from CNN and eWeek that highlight this issue in even more detail. In the CNN article, it states that “63% of work-related mobile devices are also used by employees for personal activities”. That’s a large number and most likely growing quickly. Not only are more personal devices being used at work, but these devices are often being compromised in some way. In the survey CNN uses, they find that “40% of companies surveyed have experienced the loss or theft of their mobile devices — and half of these devices contained ‘business critical data.’ Over one-third of these device losses had a ‘financial impact’ on the organization.” . Without proper security software on the device, those can be concerning statistics.
CNN’s article highlights many of the security concerns with personal devices at work, but the recent eWeek article is interesting due to the fact that the VA is considering letting employees use personal iPads, iPhones, and Android. From the article the CIO of the VA Roger Baker said, “‘There’s part of me that is [leaning] in the direction that the Vet talked about three or four months ago to say I’m not buying them. But as a user if you want to bring yours in, sign a piece of paper that says we can monitor the software on it and what you’re using on it, then we may give you access from your personal device on to the system'”. This just goes to show that organizations don’t necessarily want to spend the money on these devices for everyone, but see the inherent productivity gains by more people using them.
Given that more people will continue to use their own devices at work, we believe that new and innovative solutions are needed to help protect employee privacy while maintaining company security. We see an ideal solution where employee personal data is “firewalled” from company data, but companies have tools to know if the employee device has been compromised in any way and the ability to take appropriate actions to safeguard their valuable company data if that device has been compromised.
Similarly, employees have lots of personal information on their phones and tablets and need to know if their own data is at risk in any way. They should have access to their own tools to either purge those risks (malware, viruses, etc) or protect their own personal information if the device has been compromised in some way like being stolen.
The line between personal devices and company devices is increasingly becoming gray and that necessitates new solutions. That’s why we started Clutch Mobile and hope to be a large player in this space going forward.