Bring your own device disasters

Look around you.

You’re probably in an office, with a few different people. Maybe a manager or two. Perhaps you’re in a large open-plan office, so you see dozens of employees surrounding you.

Now look at their phones. They’re probably on the table next to them, just sitting idly. Maybe they even have a tablet as well, or a laptop. They’re surrounded by devices. Android phones, iOS phones, made by Apple, Samsung, or whoever else. It’s a tapestry of technology.

Now hold that thought.

There’s an interesting story in The Australian today about schools moving to bring-your-own-device programs. Students are told to use electronic gadgets in order to replace their textbooks.

There’s also a nice warning in there from IBRS analyst Joe Sweeney, who says schools need to be ready for a “tsunami of devices”.

Of course, this makes complete sense. For a while now, schools have mandated students buy a laptop from the school for a certain price. But as laptops and tablets just become more commonplace, it makes sense for students to be able to bring their own laptops and tablets from home.

Yet there are plenty of problems with this approach as well. Running these devices on wireless networks, which the schools are now installing more rapidly, is sure to be trouble.

Now, remember those devices you were looking at earlier in your office?

All of those phones have different things on them, different files and apps. And maybe even some viruses.

Think about what happens when one of those viruses is spreading across your company network. Now the company’s confidential data is at risk, but if your computer is connected, then so is yours.

If hackers want to infiltrate a company, using the device of an employee is a pretty solid strategy.

So does a bring-your-own-device policy make sense? On a practical level, sure it does. In fact, it’s going to become essential for businesses to operate under these types of flexible policies.

But if you don’t have your security set up properly, then you’re in for a disaster. Schools may not have confidential information worth stealing, but your company certainly does. Be smart and approach your BYOD policy with the care it deserves.

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