BYOD Gets Risky, Obsessive: Survey

Half of the companies polled by Varonis for a study on BYOD admit to losing a device that stored critical data.

Companies are quickly, and sometimes starkly, realizing the risks associated with allowing iPads and Android smartphones in the workplace. Bring your own device (BYOD) programs, however popular, are causing headaches for businesses.

Varonis, a New York City-based data governance software provider, discovered that half of the firms it surveyed had lost a device that contained important business data. For over a fifth of those companies, the loss resulted in a security issue.

Encouragingly, some organizations are taking steps to lock down their mobile devices. To protect themselves, 57 percent said that they employ password protection while 35 percent reported having the ability to remotely wipe lost or stolen device. Only 24 percent guard their mobile data with encryption.

Employees are becoming wary, too. Fearing that their health information or personal data may be at risk, BYOD is considered risky by 57 percent of workers.

Those fears are doing little to break their addictions to their smartphones and tablets, however.

A large majority of workers, 86 percent, are "obsessed" with their mobile devices and use their devices for work both all day and night. Table manners appear to be a thing of the past for the 44 percent that admitted to using their devices during a meal.

The results echo those of a survey conducted by TNS Global Research for Dell and Intel that calls into question the concept of work hours. Sixty percent of workers polled would have trouble fitting their workloads into a 9 to 5 schedule. Forty-three percent said that they under pressure to work more hours.

There are also signs that instead of improving productivity, BYOD programs are an excuse for some workers to slack off. According to Varonis, "nearly a quarter of employees stated that they spend more time than they care to admit using their personal device for personal use during work hours."

There is little use fighting it, suggests David Gibson, vice president of Strategy at Varonis. "Being connected to work around the clock appears to be accepted as the 'new normal'," he said in a company statement.

To prevent the popularity of BYOD from becoming a security problem, Gibson advises vigilance with a dash of mobile device management (MDM). "Making sure controls are appropriate to the risks -- if the data is valuable, organizations need to control where it resides and who has access to it, need to be able to audit use, spot abuse," he added.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Tags: mobile, BYOD, bring your own device

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