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Device Management: Hybrid BYOD-CYOD policies ideal for addressing security concerns

December 07, 2015

In recent years, the use of personal devices for accessing work-related data as well as performing business functions has gained traction across various enterprises in India. Several companies have already adopted bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, and many others are planning to do so in a bid to improve the efficiency and productivity of their workforce at minimal costs.

An effective BYOD strategy can result in higher productivity on several counts. It leads to improved job satisfaction as an employee is free to bring in a device of his/her choice, indicating a higher comfort level for using it for company work. In addition, since the personal mobile device stays with the employee at all times, it allows work to be done on the go, thereby ensuring a continuing connection with the work environment. The BYOD concept also helps industries bring down their IT and device costs as employees are responsible for supporting and maintaining their own devices. Companies only need to deploy the requisite software without having to undertake regular hardware upgrades, resulting in the faster company-wide adoption of newer technologies.

A robust BYOD policy can result in the roll-out of applications across the workforce to help employees use their devices for carrying out new functions beyond the traditional email and browsing. Applications like time sheets, punch lists and site check-ins/check-outs can be deployed to enhance efficiency.

The BYOD trend is currently more prevalent across medium- and large-sized organisations, but smaller companies are gradually coming on board as they realise the benefits of BYOD policies and the ability to go mobile without massive investments in devices and hardware. Even as BYOD policies become an integral part of any organisation that is striving to achieve enterprise mobility, there are still several challenges and issues associated with their development and deployment.

Challenges and solutions

Security remains the main area of concern for companies that decide to go the BYOD way. IT departments find it difficult to ensure the protection of company data as it can be accessed across networks and locations. Data leakage can also occur due to theft or the loss of the user device. In such a scenario, an organisation stands to lose highly critical data. Thus, it is imperative to monitor and limit access to functions, as well as install security solutions.

An organisation deploying a BYOD policy requires high bandwidth and superior quality coverage to provide users with voice, video, unified communications and other applications, and to monitor their use. This is extremely challenging in a country like India, where there is a severe spectrum crunch. Several cases of com-pany bandwidth misuse for personal usage have been reported. Moreover, as devices flood the handset market and new Android-based devices are introduced almost daily, managing and bringing them under the purview of IT departments is next to impossible.

In a bid to deal with the rising number of challenges associated with BYOD, companies are adopting solutions and tools for desktop virtualisation, mobility management and security. These software-based offerings allow them to do away with the need for upgrading their entire IT infrastructure. Telecom operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India offer BYOD solutions that address security concerns. For instance, Airtel’s Dynamic Mobile Exchange for companies allows employees to segregate official and personal data on the same device by compartmentalising information related to email, data applications and documents. Vodafone India has a similar product, Vodafone Secure Device Manager, which allows the tracking of application downloads, voice and data.

Shift towards CYOD

The aforementioned solutions and tools for addressing BYOD security challenges have been successful only to a certain extent, as a result of which several companies are now contemplating a shift towards a choose-your-own-device (CYOD) policy. This, however, is expected to be a gradual shift. CYOD devices are already compatible with a company’s security, mobile device management and mobile application management systems. Companies are also likely to have developed a secure email client, browser, instant messenger, document editor and access for approved devices. This results in a win-win situation as an employee can choose the device that he/she wishes to use.

Moreover, the CYOD concept brings under its purview a host of enterprise verticals that have not been willing to adopt BYOD policies, such as defence, manufacturing, oil and gas and construction. Companies in these verticals use specialised applications and platforms, the deployment of which is neither possible nor advisable across all user devices, considering the sensitivity and specialisation of certain data. The applications used by these companies are often not compatible with the current operating systems of user devices.

The way forward

The BYOD trend is gaining traction in India on account of the surge in smartphone uptake as well as the growing willingness of organisations to leverage opportunities in the enterprise mobility segment. CYOD is expected to eventually take over BYOD, and till this happens, companies can opt for a hybrid BYOD-CYOD policy to address security issues.

 
 

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