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Bring your own device (BYOD) is a corporate policy that enables employees to use their personal equipments like laptop, tablets, mobile devices and other electronic gadgets at the workplace for the purpose of carrying out the day to day work (Nicol, 2013, p.11). The broad penetration of Internet and mobile communication around the global has resulted in phenomenal societal change. With the advancement of technology and more complex devices, their role in society has become more integrated as they are seen not merely as a means of simple communication but also a tool to carry out multiple tasks from one place (Rhee and Yi, 2015, p166). These devices have become so attached with human beings that even employers seek to use these as an opportunity to encourage employees to bring their devices and work on them which also saves the organizations resources but also offers additional scope for employees to take work to their home and complete pending tasks in their spare time or during holidays on their personal device (Rhee and Yi, 2015, p.167). Nevertheless, internet technologies offer security challenges to the company and as such it is essential that organizations have effective BYOD policies so which should also include security measures to address the challenges and risks pertaining to information security and data protection. This paper analyzes and examines the security issue pertaining to the BYOD concept and to evaluate the circumstances how the organizations can balance the risks of BYOD policies and privacy at workplace.
BYOD gained prominence along with the rise in number of people accessing internet on tabs and smartphones which has resulted in intrusion of internet into the privacy of individuals. This has been largely seen as an opportunity by many commercial enterprises to tap the consumer. But organizations have also reacted to this phenomenon and embraced BYOD as it allows firms to gain efficiency at all three corners of IT triangle i.e. infrastructure, internal use applications and external use application (Tuan, 2014, p41). The adoption of BYOD has led to threefold effects on the organization, albeit, positively i.e. firms gained more competitive advantage as compared to their rivals, decision makers can now spend more time on organizational strategy rather than focusing on infrastructure and resources and now they can focus on developing organizational strategy for long term sustainable development (Smith and Forman, 2013, p.68). The scope and style of work in modern times, since the introduction of technology and internet, has changed and people are choosing the mode of work. Many companies are adopting the BYOD policy as it has become such important that it cannot be dispensed off. Firms like Vanguard, BNY, Wells Fargo have BYOD policies at their workplace so as to enable rick work-life balance facilitating them to be with their families as well as connected to the work (DeFrancesco, 2015, p.17). Koster (2013, p.10), referring to a Harris Interactive Study, points out that 80% of employees used personal devices for work purpose. Previous studies on BYOD reveal that firms have largely discouraged employees from bringing or using their personal devices for business purpose as it involved the risk of data security and data protection. Organizations, however, considering the opportunities and challenges of BYOD concept, has either to accept it or completely ban the use at the workplace (Neff, 2013, p.42). The argument over data security and data protection is serious but the seriousness and sensitivity has increased due to increasing competition, its importance and the rise of internet technologies which has given rise to cyber crimes. Neff (2013, p.42) points out that the work at home concepts were existent even before the BYOD concept had actually arrived as employees could take the work to home in floppies and CDs but due to increasing incidents of theft and cyber crime, the issue is much larger than it meets the eye.
Olalere, Abdullah, Mahmod and Abdullah (2015, p.2) while mentioning the benefits of BYOD, argue that the business benefits by having access to its employees without any hindrances and achieve cost efficiency on infrastructure and resources apart from offering management flexibility, maximized employee contentment and simplified IT infrastructure. By adopting BYOD policy at workplace, organizations gain an advantage over the employees by offer them workplace satisfaction. However, the biggest problem of such policy is that employees can carry their devices everywhere outside of work and the threat faced by the companies is the loss or theft of data by the competitors or criminals (Vermaat, Sebok, Freund, Campbell and Frydenberg, 2015, p.433). While organizations should BYOD policies at workplace, it is necessary that employers should clarify employees that the organization reserves the right to monitor all employee communications that are sent over the employer’s network (Olalere et al, 2015, p.2). Though there are certain difficulties in balancing employee privacy rights and protecting company data, BYOD policy should be strict in ascertaining the fact that employee’s devices will be monitored over the network. Downer and Bhattacharya (2016, p.3) point out various technical issues in incorporating BYOD at workplace as there will be no uniformity between security principles and portable devices, ethical and privacy issues and various human resource challenges which include controlling human reactions pertaining to BYOD policies. Therefore it is necessary that the firms take steps to mitigate risks by addressing the fundamental issue of data protection (Tokuyoshi, 2013, p.11).
Firms can establish Mobile Device Managers to control the risk of data theft and protection by controlling the activities of users on their smartphone over the company network (DeFrancesco, 2015, p.19). As it is impossible hold out BYOD out of the organizational strategy for long (DeFrancesco, 2015, p.17), it is necessary to develop critical security measures at the workplace integrating convenience, comfort, usability, flexibility and information security. Organizations can address the challenge by having an exclusive network that allows access, establishing network access control which can enhance BYOD frameworks, mobile device management which enables the firm control mobile devices (Downer and Bhattacharya, 2016, p.4). Firms should develop a BYOD policy which should be mutually agreed by the employees and employer so as to develop trust and instill honesty at workplace so that all the security controls can work effectively and secure the business environment (Downer and Bhattacharya, 2016, p.5).
Tokuyoshi (2013, p.13) points out that such security measures can be more powerful when combined with an understanding of the users as it can provide richer provide to those who are within the network. The policies should address technical, legal and human resources issues as identified by Downer and Bhattacharya (2016, p.4) and ensure that work data will not be merged with the employee’s personal data, ensure that the employee’s family members will not access the data, establish procedures to enable restrictions on out-going employee so that his access is limited and alerting the management immediately when the device is lost so that measures can be taken to restrict the device’s access to the organizational network and prevent data theft and misuse (Vermaat et al, 2015, p.433).
While organizations cannot hold out from BYOD concept, it is necessary that organizations embrace this phenomenon in view of its unending benefits and establish necessary security measures in place to address its challenges. It is necessary to balance the corporate control with usability. There are plenty of security threats due to BYOD which can be addressed by establishing necessary security access protocols and restrictions so that employees can have controlled access to the organization’s data. Security challenges will always remain a threat, but organization will have to overcome this challenge so that it can have a competitive edge of its rivals and reap the benefits by having employees who are accessible round the clock, achieve cost efficiency by focusing less on physical resources and allocating more time to strategic decision making for long term sustainable development of the organization. BYOD has a positive strategic implications for the organization if the policies are agreed by both the employer and the employee to ensure trust and honesty prevail at the workplace.
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