IT security chiefs urged to ensure BYOD advantages outweigh risk

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Enabling employees to use their own electronic devices can have a number of benefits for businesses of all sizes, provided they take appropriate action to safeguard any electronic document storage.

With the recent emergence of smartphones such as the iPhone and Blackberry giving mobile workers the chance to stay in touch with the office, and the evolution of high-speed home internet allowing people to work from home or in a local cafe, growing numbers of organisations are relaxing their IT rules.

Notably, many companies now operate a BYOD (bring your own device) policy in the workplace, giving staff the chance to use laptops and phones they are comfortable with while reassuring managers that they will be able to reach their team outside of normal working hours.

However, while many business commentators are heralding the potential of the BYOD workplace philosophy, particularly when it comes to boosting employee motivation and productivity levels, according to Leon Ward, product manager at Sourcefield, IT managers need to ensure that their data security and disaster recovery measures are up-to-speed before they start allowing people to connect external devices to the office network.

The trend, he argues, adds an extra "element of sophistication to any organisation’s network" that IT managers may not always be knowledgeable about. 

"For example, if I don’t know [that a group of people] are now using the latest Android tablet, which comes out in a couple of weeks, how can I put controls in place to be able to protect them and defend them from these new threats that I may not be aware of? So if you don’t know you have these assets to defend, then it’s impossible for you to ever perform any defence on there," he says.

These comments come just days after research carried out by iPass found that 48 per cent of UK workers have bypassed their employer’s IT security rules in order to access corporate data, with one in four organisations still failing to have the appropriate measures in place to guard sensitive information against the possible risks of a BYOD policy.

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