October 23, 2015

Five Dangers of Employees Bringing in their Own Devices

This post was written by: Ilinca Mardarescu

5 Dangers of employees bringing in their own devises to work

Bring your own device (BYOD) schemes are being introduced across the country as a result of the benefits and advantages they bring to both employers and employees. However there are inherent risks that both parties should be aware of. This article briefly outlines – what we perceive to be – the 5 main dangers of a BYOD scheme.

  1. Distractive.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook (click here to view our blog on Facebook), WhatsApp, the list goes on and on. It seems too much to resist.

There is a compelling argument suggesting that by allowing workers to bring in their own devices, such as mobile phones and laptops, they will get distracted; the seemingly small act of sending a personal text or surfing the web can add up to take serious time out of the working day.

A Forbes article by Cheryl Conner gave some statistics on distraction in the work place. She stated: around 21% of employees wasted 2-5 hours a week on non-work related websites and mobile phone devices. 8% spent between 6-10 hours a week on un-work related distractions, while 3% spent over a shocking 10 hours a week not working at the office.

The first major danger of a ‘BYOD’ (bring your own device) scheme is a fall in productivity if employees get distracted from work.

  1. The Data is Discoverable.

This is a danger for the employer and employee.

For employers, the risk lies in the fact they are not in control of the device. Should an employee lose their device or should it be stolen for example from their home, the employers data which is stored onto the device is at risk.  This opens up issues of security which the employer needs to consider and deal with in the BYOD scheme.

If an employee participated in a BYOD programme they are in danger of losing a lot of their privacy.

The personal device, which an employee also uses for work, can be explored by the employer as well as potentially another party if the employer is in legal proceedings where the information is relevant. This could involve personal information, social media accounts, private photos and even geographical location being made more public than the employee may have wanted.

In this way there is a danger to an individual’s privacy if they agree to a BYOD scheme.

  1. Expensive.

As stated above, there is a potential scenario where a device has to be searched. This occurs if the employing company is in legal proceedings or even anticipates one and thus there is a possible requirement for litigation hold.

Here the company will have to pay to search the devices, possibly over 2/3 devices for each employee. Thereby there is a significant fiscal risk in all allowing employees to bring in their own devices.

  1. Little control over the device.

Once the device has been allowed into the workplace there is, in reality, little an employer can do to control the devise. True, restrictions can be put on what files the devise can activate within the business mainframe but there is an inherent risk that an employee could be ‘technology savvy’ enough to ‘jailbreak’ their phone and get around said restrictions. Possibly, they could unlock classified documents or client information. Thus there is a significant danger in terms of the firm’s own security and autonomy.

  1. Increased entry points for hackers.

A firm with 10 desktop computers inside its secure walls is much harder to hack than, say, a firm with 10 desktop computer, 5 employees with their own laptops and 8 employees with their own mobile phone devices. The hacker has a multiplicity of access points into the firm, and thus the task of securing sensitive information becomes relatively easier.

Thereby the danger of being ‘hacked’ increase when a BYOD scheme is introduced.

With the 5 dangers highlighted above it seems unlikely that any company would allow employees to bring in their own devices. And yet, there has been a growing wave of companies allowing BYOD schemes. This is largely due to the perceived benefits the policy can bring: one benefit of a BYOD scheme is it may boost productivity. The reasoning behind this is that employees can now, more easily, work from outside the office, being able to deal with work related issues anytime, anywhere. Another benefit of a BYOD scheme is that it decrease costs for companies, if companies allow employees to use their own devices for work related reasons then the company themselves do not have to pay for work devices. True, companies will have to pay for the security system and monitoring of the device but that could be negligible in comparison to, for example, a new blackberry.

The benefits seemingly outweigh the costs, and in today’s workplace, where technology and a greater demand for flexible working are increasingly prevalent, it pays for companies to put some thought into how a BYOD scheme could eliminate some of the inherent dangers.