Bridging the Employee-Employer BYOD Trust Gap

Dec 20, 2013

executrade blogIn a perfect world, we’d all carry the same ultra-efficient, sleek devices that run the most current platform with every feature imaginable. We’d all be connected at will and super productive because of our shiny, new, synchronized mobile devices that we could use anywhere and everywhere. But we all live in the real world, and the real world is wonderfully diverse and very competitive. Some of us like PCs and some of us like Macs. Some of us love our iPhones and some of us swear by Android. There’s a proliferation of electronic computing and communication devices to choose from, and as of now, the choices aren’t diminishing. Variety is the spice of life, especially, when it comes to our devices. That’s why ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) trend uses personal mobile devices at work instead of company-issued equipment, and it’s quickly becoming a common practice. But it can create as many problems as benefits, for both employees and employers.

Access to, and use of, company-owned data and networks with personal devices creates a trust issue between employees and employers. Employers want and need the economic benefits and employee engagement opportunities that BYOD provides, but must have control and security to safeguard their vital business data. Employees don’t always realize what can happen to the devices they own when they use them to perform work for their employers, or how their privacy can be affected.

Benefits Versus Drawbacks

With BYOD, employees can get work done when they’re away from the office using their personal devices, but they must give up a measure of privacy and accept some responsibility if their devices are lost or stolen or if there is some litigation in their area of work. Employers get more productive employees at lower costs when they don’t have to buy the equipment their employees use to do their work. But they have to make sure there is an acceptable level of security for this practice.

BYOD Trust Gap and Privacy Issues

A June 2013 MobileIron survey revealed a substantial trust gap between employers and employees when it comes to BYOD. Employees are confused about their privacy and what employers can and can’t see on their devices.

When employers allow employees to access company networks with their personal devices, they have access to information about the employees and devices beyond corporate email and data. They can see device battery levels, makes, models, OS versions, locations, carriers, storage uses, lists of apps and corporate email and data, according to the survey. They can’t see personal email and data, texts, voice mail, Web activity, photos and videos. However, this personal data is lost when the device is wiped remotely or “bricked” in the event of a security breach. New developments such as Blackberry’s balance technology or Samsung’s dual persona phone attempt to give employees and employers a better way to manage BYOD by separating areas of the devices for personal and work use.

What’s the Solution?

Helping employees understand everything involved in BYOD with clear policies and procedures builds trust through transparency. Employees say they’ll feel more comfortable with BYOD if employers provide:

  • Written notification of what employers can see on their personal devices.
  • Written permission to access their devices.
  • Commitment in writing to only view company information.
  • Detailed explanation of the purpose of viewing things on their personal devices.

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