BYOD an Unstoppable Force – In and Outside the U.S.


Tony Hallett is a director at Collective Content (UK) and senior partner at Erbut. He has written the following guest post for the Networking Exchange Blog. 

Bring your own device (BYOD) is on the rise across organizations around the world with significant effects for the IT functions that have traditionally served them. However, recent research shows attitudes toward this trend vary by country even though many of the risks to organizations’ networks are the same.

Mobile Deployment on the Rise

Data released by Gartner to coincide with its recent Security & Risk Management Summit in National Harbor, Maryland, shows that the proliferation of devices in enterprises of 500-plus employees with an in-house data center is widespread. Fully 90 percent have deployed mobiles (mainly smartphones) while 86 percent plan to roll out tablets this year.

Some in the security industry lament the BYOD movement. Tweeting from the Gartner event, Quest Software’s Jonathan Sander (@sanderiam) said: “Sad but true: users will nearly always undermine security in order to improve their experience & convenience.”

But while some companies choose to lock down their infrastructure and access to networks as firmly as possible, others recognize this is a losing battle against employees who are investing in their own equipment. According to Forrester, more than half of companies find themselves shackled to Windows XP on corporate PCs.

Does Acceptance Mean Support?

Some IT departments are accepting BYOD, arguably embracing the inevitable. But are companies supporting the devices? Gartner survey puts numbers on technical support being provided for personal devices, with laptops topping the list (44%), followed by tablets (37%) and smartphones (32%). The research covered Australia, Germany, Japan, the UK and the U.S., as well as the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

However, not all IT functions are changing at the same pace because of the differences in the rate of BYOD adoption geographically. Notably technical support provided in the BRIC countries averages out at 44 percent versus 28 percent across the more developed nations.

Explaining the difference, Gartner research director Chae-Gi Lee said, “Mature countries consider BYOD programs bringing with them both legal and technical issues, whereas emerging countries only see technical issues.” Another reason suggested for the split is the greater number of younger, Generation Y employees in the BRIC grouping.

Mitigating the Risk That Comes with BYOD

Wherever a company’s users are based, Gartner advocates an approach that incorporates mobile data protection (MDP), network access control (NAC) and mobile device management (MDM).

Also many of the organizations polled (22% in BRIC nations and a slightly lower 20% for non-BRIC) are already using hosted virtual desktop (HVD) to gain a stronger degree of control over hardware they don’t own, as in BYOD scenarios.

What are your thoughts on BYOD? Is it a case of “users undermining security” or should IT departments embrace the trend and mitigate the risk – whether technical or legal?
The Networking Exchange Blog Team About NEB Team