IT Execs Admit Benefits of BYOD, but Nervous About Users’ Risk Awareness

A recent study commissioned by British Telecom reveals the fact that both employers and employees are supportive of the growing trend of bringing personal devices for use on corporate networks. More than 80% of IT Managers think that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) setups will give a company some competitive advantage in terms of cost and productivity. But, despite the potential benefits, the downturn is that only one out of ten IT Managers think that users are aware of the risks in BYOD.  Less than 20 percent of them believe that all users understand the access or permissions related to their mobile devices.

Businesses are now allowing employees to use their own notebooks, tablets and smartphones to access the office network and resources. But how safe is this, really? (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

The report Rethink The Risk was conducted among 2,000 IT users and decision-makers in 11 countries from various industrial backgrounds. These individuals use their own laptops, tablets and smartphones at the workplace.

More than 80% of the participating companies said that they already allow BYOD or will allow it within the next 24 months, while 60% of employees have claimed that they are already given permission to connect their personal devices to the office network.

As for the positive side of using BYOD, 64% of respondents believe it will make the employees more productive, 48% think it will allow employees to have more flexible working hours, and 47% believe they can offer better customer service.

From the employees’ end, 42% admit that by bringing their own gadgets for use at the workplace, they work more efficiently and productively. A big concern to consider, though, is that a third of employees see no risks at all with BYOD. Ninety percent of the decision-makers disagree.

BT Global Services emphasized the risk of attacks, data theft and loss. “The new perimeter is everywhere, defined by employee-owned devices, clouds, and extranets. The risk of abuse and attack has multiplied along with this massive expansion.”

In order to face IT security challenges, companies are urged to have a clear policy, the right tools for implementation, trust system, and appropriate and solid business processes.

“Your biggest enemy is your closest friend,” says BT Global Services. It applies in the IT Security field. Thirty-nine percent of firms have admitted that they experienced security breaches due to employees bringing in unauthorized devices. This has frequently happened in the fast-moving consumer goods and pharmaceuticals sectors.  Around 83% of IT Directors and executives believe that putting 24/7 access to corporate systems into the hands of an increasingly mobile workforce is now a threat that is in the same league as hacking and other cybercrimes.

British Telecom Chief Secuity Officer Tareque Choudhury says that the aim is to mitigate the risk or at least minimize it. “Every organisation has to accept certain amounts of risk. The protection lies in understanding the risk and where to be proactive.”

In short, lesson learned from this report is that decision-makers need to address, tackle and overcome all issues and challenges before introducing BYOD policies, by setting security as the highest priority.

For this purpose, BT offers its BT Assure Evaluator to the enterprises. First the consultants will work with customers to navigate the complexity, evaluate security requirements, highlight areas of concern, help spending prioritization and make sure that they have appropriate policies, procedures and solutions in place to utilize BYOD without compromising security. The service also assesses three elements of IT Security, which are people, processes and technology. The output is a detailed view of customers’ readiness in key areas, which will help them in prioritizing security spending and activities.