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Bring your own device: what does it really mean for your business?

by | Mar 4, 2015 | Other | 0 comments

When it comes to your workplace, chances are you have come across the term ‘bring your own device.’

If you haven’t, this is still a fairly new term that means that employees can bring their own devices, such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks and use them at work as work devices.

This may not sound like such a big thing, after all, most companies have uncaringly allowed employees to bring their own devices to work for decades.  But this was obviously insecure, and leaks were becoming more commonplace.

So, when the need to contain this security risk became apparent, device manufacturers were more than happy to oblige and answer the call for a solution.

Device manufacturers started building in security mechanisms into new smartphone’s, and major companies started adopting a ‘bring your own device’ policy into the workplace.

This policy would generally allow employers to monitoring employee’s computer and cell phone activity while at work, but restrict access to monitoring while the employee was ‘off the clock.’

What are the benefits of BYOD in the workplace?

In order to take the burden of the cost of the IT department, BYOD programs mean that the employee is partly (or fully) responsible for funding the purchase of their device. The trade-off in the employees mind for having to invest in their own device, of course, is that the phone model would be of their choosing. This leads to an increase in employee morale and consequently, productivity.

A good BYOD policy can also save you time,as without a policy, you are going to have to micromanage each employee in regards to what corporate device they can use and what applications they can run for certain tasks.

That is the essence of what all the BYOD policies offered by smartphone manufacturers are supposed to do – protect corporate data, preserve personal freedom.

What BYOD features do smartphone manufacturers offer?

Let’s take a look at what BYOD features are being offered by each smartphone manufacturer.  Starting off with Nokia (well, Microsoft,) and their Windows Phone 8.1 OS.

Each Lumia phone (as well as the HTC One M8 running Windows) has an option inside the Settings menu of the phone OS titled Workplace which allows you to add a workplace account to your smartphone.

However, this comes with a few things that need to be considered.

  • This may stop you from being able to reset your phone without company permission
  • Your storage card access may be disabled
  • Built-in applications may be disabled by your employer
  • Certain apps may not be allowed to run on your device by your employer
  • Certain apps may not be downloadable from the Windows Store
  • Your workplace account cannot be removed by anyone else except your employer

Knowing that all devices are running corporately approved software gives piece of mind for companies and their IT staff, but it is not just Nokia who is big on BYOD across their devices.

Samsung is also a large player on the employee monitoring scene with their Android devices and have since baked Knox into all version of the Android OS since 4.4.x.

Knox is, as the name suggests, a program to lock down your phone and make sure that nothing can be used while in a corporate environment to steal private and sensitive company information.

Knox does this by partitioning your device and making sure that your personal and work related activities do not mix.

Essentially Knox adds a new layer to your phone that is password protected.  Once accessed it allows for the same functionality as Microsoft has in their devices and you can restrict phone activity as required.

But Knox takes workplace security further than seems that Samsung is deadly serious when it comes to workplace security and their Samsung devices even have a Knox app store hosting only the apps that meet the requirements of Knox.

Because Knox splits your phone into two parts you can easily switch between the two as needed.  Think of it like switching from an administrator account to a standard user account in Windows.  The Knox side of the device can load the apps and settings and policies your workforce allows and then, when outside the office, you can switch back to normal mode and access everything else that in the office, was restricted.

The Knox part of the device is self-contained so, for example, if you set up a Microsoft Exchange account inside of Knox, your IT staff could choose to remotely wipe it, and this would only affect the Knox section of the phone.

You can also integrate Knox apps to your main personal partition of the phone, i.e, you could take pictures using the Knox Camera app on the personal side of your device and it is saved only in the Knox partition.

So far it seems that Samsung provides the best security when it comes to BYOD and when you consider the proliferation of low-cost Android devices, it is usually a safe bet that most IT Managers, when tasked with the job of purchasing company devices, would choose an Android device due to the price range.

Then there’s the iPhone.

As the iPhone skyrocketed in popularity, major corporations had to start supporting them to access their systems and services.

When you also factor in the nature of BYOD, many popular iPhone apps such as Netflix, Facebook and Google Drive are blacklisted and prohibited from use.  Even Angry Birds is restricted if the iPhone is part of a corporate BYOD policy but -and here is the irony- so is Microsoft’s OneDrive.

Yet iCloud is perfectly fine (even though it gets hacked regularly) so if OneDrive is your corporate choice for cloud-based file storage, then again Windows Phone gets the advantage as it is built in and fully integrated into the corporate features of the Windows Phone device.

The only other smartphone manufacturer who I haven’t mentioned yet is the one that brought enterprise security to companies everywhere but has since faded into relative obscurity, and that is BlackBerry.

BlackBerry were once the pioneers when it came to securing devices for corporate use, thanks to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server service, which was featured on all their devices.

Now, everyone seems to want an iPhone or Android or seems to own an iPhone and Android as their own personal device, so more and more companies are adopting either iPhone or Android as the BYOD platform of choice.

But employees don’t want to be told what to buy based upon the security.  They want a device that looks nice, runs their own apps and gives them control, they want their own device.

And as it’s been seen, every device manufacturer has BOYD security with varying degrees of features, pro’s, and con’s.

So what is the universal solution to having a BOYD policy?

This is exactly why we developed KnowIT.

KnowIT lets you monitor exactly what they are doing with their phones, without imposing burdening restrictions. No separate partitioned drives, no restricted apps, forget all of that.

Instead of intrusive settings that are obvious to your employees, install instead, an “observing utility” like KnowIT that will unobtrusively monitor their phone (and computer) activity, alerting you when suspicious behavior occurs based on what you tell it to look out for.

This is the new, smart way to have a complete view of what’s going on in your business, while still keeping the peace.

To learn more about KnowIT, and how it can help your business, small or large, click here.

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