Data Protection Fears Rise as BYOD Increases in Workplaces
January 20, 2014
By Ed Silverstein
, TMCnet Contributor
On the surface it’s wonderful that data is more accessible now to employees that use smartphones, tablets and other devices in bring your own device (BYOD) strategies at their workplaces. But many concerns arise for the companies about the management of private data in a secure and appropriate fashion.
The concern becomes more pressing given that an increasing number of small- and medium-sized businesses are considering employing tablets for employees. Some 73 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses were predicted to purchase tablets during 2012, according to the NPD Group (News - Alert). But even if the employees bring their own tablets into the workplace, it’s still a concern. It shows workplaces need to respond to the mix of employee-owned and business-owned mobile devices in their midst.
As a result, access control and mobile data management becomes more important for the company, said Steven Reese, a former VP at Presidio now working as chief technology officer at Sigmanet, a tech service and solutions provider. In addition, personal and work-related data needs to be kept segregated. "It's a privacy thing," Reese was quoted by Search IT Channel. "The management challenge is more about the information than it is about the device itself."
Businesses need to respond to the trend by keeping data stored in a data center, securely, Reese warned. In addition, in this way both businesses and employees can make sure the latest version is in place.
In a related issue, independent software vendors and cloud providers have a role to play when it comes to enterprise mobility management. In fact, most mobility management vendors will offer both cloud and on-premises offerings from which to choose.
There is another issue of concern, as well. When coming up with a data management policy, businesses that operate in many different countries have to recognize that there are limits on what they can do with a mobile device management (MDM) platform. They are regulated by different laws in different nations. Monitoring an employee-owned device may need to be pre-approved by the employee – and there could be restrictions on monitoring of the device and device-level control, according to a report from Ovum (News - Alert), a provider of tech analysis and reports. Employees need to give proper consent before the employer can access or process personal data, and consent is needed if a business wants to install an MDM application on an employee device, Ovum adds in a Computer Weekly article.
Given the widespread presence of BYOD in workplaces, these kinds of issues may need to be addressed. Last year, Ovum estimated some 60 percent of employees accessed workplace data on their personal smartphones and tablets. But about 30 percent of businesses put BYOD management in effect. The finding was based on Ovum's survey of 4,371 employees that worked in businesses found in 19 different nations.
"People are bringing their own devices, but in many cases they and their companies are not taking care of those devices and the applications on them appropriately," Richard Absalom, a technology analyst at Ovum, was quoted by Tech Target. "Obviously, a large proportion is probably going unmanaged.”