Increasingly, companies and the government are turning to employees to bring their iPads, iPhones, and other smartphones to work to do work. Bring your own device is a trend that is gaining momentum in both the public and private sectors. From an employer perspective it is not a bad deal -- lower overhead by passing along the purchase and upkeep costs of devices to employees. Employees gain flexibility as work and personal lives coverge.Unfortunately, balancing convenience with security is not easy. If not handled properly, BYOD can quickly turn into BYOM -- bring your wwn malware, with the problems plaguing individual's home computers permeating corporate systems. There are other problems too, such as when an employee loses a device that contains sensitive information. Just think of the controversy the last several years of lost, stolen, or misplaced laptops that affected many companies and government agencies. The problems posed by those disappearing computers are tame compared to the threats posed by BYOD.
In addition, employers have to deal with emerging legal regimes on how, when and why they can access their employees' devices. There has been much thinking, as well as policy and legal wrangling, over how employers can monitor and regulate employees' use of computers owned by the employer. Banners and employee policies often lay out strict rules on what can and can't be done on company computers. How does this translate to a BYOD world, where personal and work lives merge and workhours are not easily delineated?
From an employer's perspective, maybe it is not such a good economic deal. Instead of dealing with procurement and upkeep issues, employers may find themselves dealing with implementation, privacy both of employee's personal stuff and corporate information comingled on a device -- and security headaches not contemplated in a corporate-owned technology world.
Whatever the case, BYOD looks to be growing, not shrinking, and we should continue to see the law, policy, and technology worlds evolve to meet changing demands and practices.