Bring Your Own vs. Choose Your Own Device

Choose Your Own Device could help organisations deal with the inevitable problems caused by bringing your own device to work, says Marc Hanne

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Bring Your Own vs. Choose Your Own Device Hanne: CYOD reduces the number of devices that need a security strategy.
By  Marc Hanne Published  May 29, 2016

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous in homes and offices, and as the devices increase in sophistication, companies face a series of challenges when employees wish to access work resources from anywhere, at any time, and on any device of their choosing. Smartphone shipments to the Middle East and Africa are expected to reach approximately 155-million units this year, according to industry analyst IDC.

In recent years, companies have tried to make the most of the explosive growth of smartphones through the adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies. Convenience is a significant factor in the user experience, and BYOD has long been viewed as a means to realising greater flexibility and better productivity. The market intelligence firm IDC  stated that the mobile workforce in EMEA region saw a healthy compound annual growth rate of 5.6 per cent, as it increased from 186.2 million in 2010, to 244.6 million mobile workers in 2015.

BYOD is still approached with much caution however, and whether this boils down to security concerns, privacy laws or simple differences in culture, a Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) policy could well be a more effective course of action for businesses in the Middle East.

With a strategy such as BYOD, a number of questions and security considerations come to the forefront for businesses. How can companies keep their own data secure with so many different devices and users to monitor? How can organisations keep their systems safe, when ever-evolving viruses, malware and advanced persistent threats could be finding their way onto employee devices from personal use?

A recent Forrester research study suggests that at least 60 per cent of enterprises will discover a breach of sensitive data in 2015. This could be caused by unwitting employees, whether through accidental misuse, loss or even theft of resources.

The good news is that there are several ways in which companies can strengthen their security when employees are using mobile devices. One potential solution lies in the creation of separate zones on a device, divided between work data and the personal data of each individual user. In short, this involves organisations creating a remotely-managed zone within the device, which holds all the company data and is protected by the highest standards of encryption and security technology.

This approach significantly reduces the chance of viruses and other threats from crossing over from mobile devices to the network and vice versa, as a result of personal use of the device. The aforementioned approach, combined with the latest two-factor and multi-factor authentication methods including, for example, the use of mobile ‘soft tokens’ to generate one-time passwords, gives companies the best possible chance of making mobile devices in the workplace safe and secure.

However, this is also where BYOD has its limitations from a security perspective. Employees can access both personal and work data in a convenient manner, but the multitude of available mobile devices and the diversity of their users makes a one-size-fits-all approach to data security neither possible nor practical in most cases. Strong, comprehensive authentication can go a long way towards safeguarding company data under BYOD, but a significant level of risk still exists. This is where CYOD can provide additional key benefits.

Implementing CYOD enables businesses to adopt the same security features as they would under a BYOD policy, including encrypted data zones and effective yet easy-to-follow authentication procedures.

At the same time, CYOD provides a smaller, pre-defined range of devices that employees can choose from, which enables organisations to better monitor security, by limiting the devices for which they need to develop a safety strategy. This ultimately reduces the level of choice on offer to employees, but offers an effective compromise nonetheless.

Marc Hanne is director of sales, DACH, CEE and Middle East, identity assurance, at HID Global.

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