Cisco on BYOD: Get Used to It

Security still a top concern for BYOD

Last week Cisco released some news about the tech topic du jour, BYOD. The main message: companies are less weary of employees using personal devices in the workplace, but security is still a concern.

Is anyone surprised here?

IT Hasn't Been Slow to Embrace BYOD, But...

The report goes on to say that corporate IT departments have been "slow to embrace the trend." Now the wording of this is tricky - because I can guarantee that IT employees have been embracing the trend of bringing their own personal devices to work longer and more frequently than other employees, for both work and play. I'm not just talking smartphones - laptops, tablets, PCs, gaming consoles, you name it. However, security isn't a major concern when an employee who works in IT is bringing in their own devices. Theoretically, they already know the potential security threats and how to avoid them. (I stress the word theoretically.)

BYOD Doesn't Have to Mean MUYOP (Make Up Your Own Policy)

IT has been slow to embrace the trend as it applies to the organization at large because of fear. Fear of the CEO asking (again) how to download the Words with Friends app, fear of an accounting associate potentially exposing financial data to the outside world, fear of having to configure and train employees how to use their brand new iPad.

But if security really is the main concern, then there's a major piece to the puzzle of BYOD security that's often overlooked beyond revamping technology framework and installing additional security measures.

That's because BYOD security is just like any other form of network security: educating your employees is key. The proactive IT department educates employees on basic practices for ensuring the security of the organization's network. This includes social engineering, safe web practices, basic PC maintenance...and BYOD.

Of course the average employee isn't going to know what kind of data protection and security risks they expose the organization to when using their smartphone to access company data at work. But they can learn!

Is it more work for the IT department? Absolutely. Is it going to be a pain in the ass? You bet.  But Cisco is right about one thing: BYOD isn't going away, and IT organizations better figure out quickly how to turn this perceived threat into an opportunity.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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