Getting personal with BYOD

  • BYOD offers employees and enterprises productivity advantages and security challenges.
  • Containerization of enterprise data keeps personal and business data separate.

As Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) adoption continues to accelerate, perhaps the biggest complication to instituting policies is separating the personal from the professional. Or, in other words, keeping enterprise data isolated from the personal information stored on an employee’s device while making sure both the device and the data are kept secure. The bleeding of sensitive data between employer and employee due to a shared device owned by the employee can be a nightmare for both employee and employer.  The employee can find their personal data (pictures, phone numbers, messages) wiped out by their employer (purposely and by mistake) as part of the corporate policy to handle lost phones and employee separations from their employer, for example. End users are bringing their personal devices onto the network, with or without a formal corporate policy to use them. As employee use of BYOD increases, IT budgets for management of mobile devices are stretched thin.  This means that IT is dealing with an increased percentage of devices with no accompanying resources to discover, manage, secure, and update those devices.

What IT departments need to come up with are ways to create “containerization of enterprise data.” According to a CiteWorld article on the topic, “Containerization involves separating enterprise data from personal data in order to enable a person to carry a single device. If the company needs to wipe the corporate data for any reason, it doesn’t have any impact on the personal data the person has on their phone including texts, photos, email, apps and so forth. The only thing that gets destroyed is the corporate data.”

Containerizing enterprise data

There are a couple of different approaches to containerization. One is to simply store personal and professional data in separate locations. The cloud and VPN are useful tools to create this separation. Employees can access all data remotely without ever storing any enterprise data on their mobile devices. Another approach is to have a secure area on the device to store only professional applications. In this case, the user then goes back and forth between the two areas or containers for work and personal use. Achieving a balance that improves employee productivity while maintaining security may be a challenge, but it’s also a requirement. Finding the balance may require some time, but without it BYOD is counter-productive to the enterprise.

How is your business managing the benefits of BYOD against its security ramifications?

Sue Poremba is an independent business writer and the author of this blog. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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