The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment challenges the security of any Chicago business network — whether large or small.

Recently, a hot topic in the IT world (both in Chicago and nationally) has been that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments have been inducing fits within the IT departments of large businesses. Small business has been running BYOD environments for some time. The problem, though, is not that the large business is slow to adapt, but is more that the small business is ignorant of the risks

BYOD sounds like a great production and cost savings model, but business owners and their IT staff need to tread with fear and trepidation.

There are at least three moderate risks that exist in a centrally controlled network. Those same risks exist in higher magnitudes in environments when the network is opened to personal devices of the employees.  (Granted, there are degrees of openness and control in a BYOD environment which will dictate the extremity of risk that exists.)

Still, Chicago business owners should be aware of the risks when planning a BYOD environment.

Three risks to consider when planning for BYOD:

1.      Organizational data planning and policies. When employees have data streaming in multiplicity to personal devices and business devices, often proper filing and storage of that information takes a back seat to handling the data in the moment. Examples include employees getting email with important attachments that are not filed because the employee reacted to the email at home on his tablet.  A secondary problem then comes in the form of bloated backups from multiple copies of data coming from multiple devices.

2.      Security of data. Hackers stealing data is the more commonly held fear that the person on the street points to as the needed threat mitigation. Though, just as common of a threat is the mishandling or malicious handling of data from the employee device. How many client lists leave with a former employee or sensitive documents exposed on a lost, stolen or sold employee device?

3.      Capacity miscalculations. BYOD environments gone wild are typified by slow wireless or under provisioned Internet connections. Capacity problems come to light especially when home grade retail hardware is installed in the office — a common solution in small business. As an example, off-the-shelf wireless access points start to really choke with 8-12 devices connecting to them. When each employee is using a laptop, phone, tablet, etc., the network speed is often blamed. In reality the capacity of the wireless network is the problem.

Each organization will have a differing balance of control and openness of the network.

Mitigating the risks mentioned above often revolves around employees’ agreement to have control software on their personal devices, more granular network traffic control software and policies on data storage. There will be contention in the IT department for the foreseeable future in regards to freedom of data access versus the risk of implementing that freedom. Future posts will explore the tools and policies to best structure such a precarious environment.

In the meantime, if you need IT consulting on a BYOD environment for your network, contact us today.