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BYOD: 'the inmates of the asylum have control'

Ann Bednarz | April 18, 2012
Mobile devices are multiplying and -- sanctioned or unsanctioned -- finding their way onto corporate networks. For IT pros, the influx of personal mobile devices to the corporate network is raising security concerns, creating management challenges, and swamping the help desk with support calls.

"Most often these devices are using pirated software, have been infected from home, or are being utilized to do non-work-related stuff," another said. "We have not set up a method to segregate these from our production network, so for now they are not allowed."

Not surprisingly, permission is not always clear-cut. Some respondents said exceptions are made for certain job roles (and certain company executives) that are allowed to use personal devices to access the network.

Nor is it always clear exactly how often employees bring their own devices to work. When asked if they're confident they know about all the personal mobile devices with access to the corporate network, respondents expressed varying degrees of certainty. Sixteen percent said they are certain, 30.4% are very confident, and 26.3% are somewhat confident. Meanwhile, 23.3% said they are not at all confident, and 3.8% admitted they have no clue.

The BYOD effect

Despite myriad security concerns and manageability challenges, there are positive effects associated with the BYOD trend.

Among the respondents whose companies allow personal mobile devices to access the corporate network, 46.2% said the policy has increased productivity among end users. A nearly similar number (47.2%) said it has increased end users' ability to work from home.

"Team members are always able to receive and respond to emails, regardless of where they are," one respondent summed up.

In some cases, having a BYOD policy has positively impacted employee relations. BYOD has "improved employee attraction and retention," one respondent said. "We have seen a change in morale," another noted. The policy has "increased job satisfaction for the employee and satisfaction with central corporate IT's customer service," another concluded.

Just 5.2% said allowing personal mobile devices to access the corporate network has decreased employee productivity, and 27.5% said they haven't seen any change in behavior.

On the security front, respondents were asked if a non-company-issued mobile device has been responsible for a security breach on the company network. Just 5.7% of respondents said yes, while 66.7% said no and 22.7% said they're unsure.

Among the respondents with anecdotes about BYOD-spawned security incidents, the most commonly cited culprits were personal laptops that introduced a virus on the company network.

On the support front, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents are in agreement on one particular BYOD issue: They need management help.

When asked if they have the necessary tools in place to manage non-company-issued mobile devices on the network, 65.3% said no, 27.5% said yes, and 7.3% said they're not sure.

With the increased use of mobile devices, 44% of respondents said they've experienced an increase in helpdesk requests, 40.7% said they've experienced an increase in network traffic, and 15.9% said they've experienced an increase in security issues. Just over 14% said they've seen an increase in all three of those areas. At the other extreme, 28.3% said they've experienced none of those upticks.


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