BYOD: The Security Dilemma

BYOD: The Security Dilemma

by Darren Guccione, CEO & Co-Founder

One of the latest buzz phrases to hit the SMB and Enterprise space is BYOD: Bring Your Own Device. This term wasn’t invented out of creativity – it was a result of addressing a major dilemma that CIO’s, CTO’s and Sys Admins began facing with the convergence of “unauthorized” personal Smartphones and Tablets used by employees. All of us love our iPhones, Android devices, Windows devices and Tablets. As the stat’s now show, we use these devices far more than our desktop and laptop computers. And why shouldn’t we? They are small, easy to use, feature rich, have great cameras and make social networking, email and calendaring simple and fast. Who wants to get out of bed, run downstairs to the computer in the office and check their bank balance? Like most people, I prefer to log into my bank account on my Smartphone while lying in bed. The only difference is that I log into mine using Keeper–but we’ll come back to that later.

In the real sense, BYOD really isn’t Bring Your Own Device–it’s “Bring Your Own Dilemma.” Companies know their employees are using their own devices for work. But those devices aren’t part of the corporate ecosystem–CIOs have no way of tracking, measuring or securing devices carrying the company’s sensitive data. The fact is simple: the exponential evolution of the personal Smartphone and Tablet was unplanned for use in business. Companies are struggling with how to secure those devices and at the same time, keep employees happy, efficient and productive.

Last year, 700 million Smartphones and 128 million Tablets were sold. This year, a 70%+ growth rate is on pace in the mobile device category. That’s roughly 3 million devices per day. Last year in the U.S. alone, 1.3 million Smartphones were stolen. Given these metrics, companies are scrambling to secure the BYOD category.

So, what’s the solution? Well, it’s not a silver bullet – it just never is. The solution is multi-faceted and starts with an understanding of human behavior and the employees of this generation. Less control, high efficiency and greater security. Think about “securing” devices vs. “controlling” devices. In my opinion, there has been too much concern about controlling an employee’s mobile device instead of simply securing the device. The premise of a company thinking they can control an employee’s device–not owned by the company– is an inherently flawed way of thinking. Security is about making your employees’ and company’s assets safe. There are thousands of articles on this topic. I’ve read about strategies ranging from minimizing or preventing access to intranets, limiting WiFi access from Smartphones, firing employees for sharing passwords to corporate sites and enabling remote wipe on mobile devices. The list goes on and on.

This blog post could wind up turning into a book, so for now, I’ll close this with one key point. As an employee benefit and safeguard to your company’s assets and internal control policies, help secure your employee’s mobile devices by buying them, two things: First, a good anti-virus software for mobile devices (Personally, I like Lookout) and second, a password manager like Keeper. This suite of products will give you geolocation in the event a device is lost or stolen, remote wipe protection and allow your employees to safeguard the company’s sensitive passwords, bank info, vendor info and access codes on their Smartphones, tablets and computers. We created our newest product, Keeper for Groups, to address the BYOD problem in the SMB and Enterprise channel. A week into the launch, we signed up several hundred companies. They love it. Their employees love it. It keeps things secure, simple and convenient – for both the company and their valued employees.