The acronym BYOD means Bring Your Own Device and pertains to gadgets such as cell phones, laptops and tablets. The acronym pertains specifically to the use of employee-owned hardware in the workplace.
Recently, the practice of BYOD has witnessed an increase in corporations. The most common instance is the use of smartphones, which are invariably owned by most employees in a typical organization. The concept is part of a growing trend of information technology consumerism, which is comprised of introducing hardware and software into the enterprise. BYOD is often confused with BYOT, which is Bring Your Own Technology. The latter is the use of devices and applications in a working environment.
The theme of our discussion is that it may not always be a bright idea to use your devices on the job, for a number of reasons. The practice of enabling employees to use their devices has many risks attached to it. The responsibility is on their employers to discourage such an exercise and urge caution.
Compromise of Data Security
One of the main concerns of BYOD is that it can lead to breaches and loss of data, which can prove particularly detrimental for employees and their organization. A data leakage would involve a scenario where details that pertain to an enterprise emanate from an unsecured device, such as an unguarded laptop. Data loss is defined as the physical theft of a device, which also entails the deprivation of sensitive data.
Based on a survey conducted by Ernst and Young, it was estimated that more than 50% of mobile devices that are stolen are never recovered. While the majority of devices are stolen for the value of the gadget, it is also a virtual certainty that burglars may concoct a method to gain access to the information stored in such hardware.
For instance, if a personal laptop of an employee is not password protected and is the subject of theft, the swindlers may seek data that can be manipulated to good effect. This will represent a major issue for the former, since this data could derail their job security and their organization as well.
Additionally, it is also likely that the device will have considerable personal information besides the company information, such as online credit or banking accounts.
Whether the data is personal or professional in nature, the risk of exposure is convincing enough to implement a non-BYOD policy at the workplace.
It Does Not Cut Costs
There are parties that assume that a BYOD policy is cost-effective. However, the opposite holds true. First and foremost, data breaches are counted as a cost as well.
Secondly, there are several employers who have utilized a BYOD arrangement under the assumption that it has a monetary advantage. However, this is a myth  that we will debunk with sufficient proof. Surreptitious costs that arise from the implementation of BYOD include the monthly premium. A wireless expense management cost structure can prove to be intricate for employers.
An enterprise may purchase a large quantity of smartphones for example. This will include a volume discount rate as part of the deal and potential free replacements as well, something which is not viable when a BYOD strategy is applied.
When a business buys devices in bulk, it can orchestrate a process that facilitates the automated deployment of the hardware. On the other end of the spectrum, a BYOD program would mean that the relevant personnel i.e. the IT department will have to input each device individually into the company’s database. Coming to terms with a BYOD structure can be a painstaking process for the firm.
In particular, there are considerable security and compliance costs linked with mobile devices, which is another disadvantage of BYOD from a company’s perspective. Since employees will bring variety of cell phones, the business will have to invest in a multi-platform device management solution and miscellaneous software. They may also require a VPN (virtual private network) layer for augmented protection.
There are discernible liabilities attached to the use of personal devices in the work place. For example, if an employee who uses their own hardware may become involved in some aspect of litigation, which can have a ripple effect for the organization as well.
The information held on their private gadgets may be subject to discovery. In legal terms, discovery is known as the deliberate exchange of information and known facts of a particular case. The process of acquiring details may include valuable company data. Such a scenario would be unwarranted for the organization since they would not want the minutiae of their intellectual properties and commodities to become public knowledge.
On the other hand, if the company is participating in court action, then their employees may be the victims in that scenario. Discovery will entail that their personal information, not pertaining to the company, is still disclosed to others. This would naturally violate their prerogative of privacy but may be a likelihood of a BYOD policy.
A Calamity Waiting to Happen
This may be particularly applicable to some roles more than others. Ultimately, ensuring employee safety is a burden that must be shared by both employees and their employers. A BYOD stance may interfere with that.
For instance, there are several cellular phones which are powered by lithium-ion batteries. There are anomalies in these batteries that have been known to incite sparks and even cause a fire, especially while charging.
As such, cell phones may pose a fire hazard at the work place, even more so in environments where the labor force is working in proximity to flammable substances or vapors. Unfortunately, they are prone to greater risk due to the nature of their job.
They may be exposed to a fire or an explosion if their cell phone battery goes awry. This is why there are discernible signs at gasoline stations warning users from using their mobile devices when they are pouring fuel into their vehicles. This is because there is a danger of ignition of flammable gasoline vapors if cell phones are used. This is another risk that must be managed adequately by all stakeholders.
Furthermore, if we examine the employee perspective, they may be averse to the notion of BYOD since their personal data may be exposed in front of their employers. For instance, corporate eavesdropping on social media accounts and the collection of readily available personal data is a concern shared by many employees.
Sensing the constant glare of Big Brother on their online activity, they may feel entitled to a greater degree of privacy  . That may also be of the opinion that a BYOD policy allows infringement of their privacy rights. A typical employee may have applications such as Facebook and banking apps containing their bank account credentials on their smartphone as well, which is why certain employees may oppose the policy strongly.
The last complaint would be that employees slack off more or get distracted with their own phones. The inappropriate use of cell phones impedes employees’ ability to recognize  and react to hazards during the guard tour. Use of “augmented reality” games, such as Pokémon Go, or texting  while walking around, should be prohibited from the worksite.
Finally, if Guard Tour Control is being considered, it should be preceded by a cogent BYOD policy that is formal and thorough. It should contain rules and regulations stipulating the devices that are supported by the employer and the security protocols that are in place. This should be formulated and distributed in a way that is understandable and easy to follow for employees. On the other hand, employees should consider following the BYOD policy as part of their job. The document should be updated with time to accommodate the changes in technology and operations. Such a modus operandi should ideally be emulated by more companies.