It's easy to see the attraction that comes from adopting bring your own device (BYOD) policies. BYOD helps employees become more mobile, increasing their overall productivity and job satisfaction. Even with these benefits, many companies are hesitant to jump on the BYOD bandwagon. Perhaps the biggest overarching concern for business leaders comes from the security risks that often accompany BYOD. Data for companies is valuable, and businesses want to do whatever it takes to protect it. There are a number of measures companies implementing BYOD can take to mitigate the security risks, but as with any strategy, there are advantages and drawbacks. One such measure is the host of security apps available to protect devices from malware and other damaging outside attacks. But is it the right move for businesses to require employees to download a security app to their personal device?
Security apps may be effective at protecting devices, but most BYOD companies don't use them. According to one recent survey, fewer than one in five BYOD employees actually use a security application on the device they use at work. This can be a point of great anxiety for business leaders and IT departments. Each mobile device represents an access point where security might fail and attackers may infiltrate the business network. The more devices there are, the more chances of security failure, and the greater the possibility of having a compromised system.
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With these numbers in mind, it's easy to see why businesses would want their employees to use security apps, but most of the pushback is coming from the workers. Requiring employees to install a security app signifies a loss of freedom, which is a major selling point when it comes to BYOD. Being told how to use devices they purchased on their own can easily create backlash. As the survey indicates, if a business seeks to step in and impose new rules on device use, employees may cease participating in BYOD policies altogether. Besides that, there are many other concerns employees may have as companies get involved. One of the biggest worries deals with privacy. Employees often worry that security apps will allow employers access to personal data. Security apps may also have a remote wiping feature, which will completely erase all data from a device if it is stolen or lost. Some security apps may include a feature whereby employers are able to track their employees. Needless to say, those employees who value their privacy may be upset if forced to install a security app.
Other negative effects may hold up full implementation of security apps. The apps may end up giving IT workers more to do since security apps are a type of software that needs frequent updates in order to protect against outside attacks and malware. Attempts to increase BYOD security by using security apps may also negatively affect the device itself, causing performance issues and taxing the device's limited processing power, especially if the device used by the employee is an older one. In these cases, some of the pushback may come from IT departments that are already stretched thin in trying to meet so many demands.
All of these drawbacks don't necessarily mean businesses should stay far away from security apps in general. Security apps work, but simply telling employees they need to install them will likely not go over smoothly. To properly implement security apps, clear communication between management and the employees is vital. Workers need to know that with all the benefits that come from BYOD, added responsibilities are expected as well. IT departments and other employees should work together to come up with the best solutions for handling security challenges. Employees should also understand how serious the security risks are and why management is so adamant that company data is protected.
Security apps may still become a sore issue, but it is one that's worth pursuing. In the event opposition to security apps is too great, there are other options out there. Many companies choose to blacklist the most at-risk applications, while others support a bring your own app (BYOA) policy. But for those businesses wanting to use security apps, perhaps the best option is to make sure those devices with access to the most sensitive data have the apps installed. With judicious use, security apps can prove very effective at protecting devices, and in turn, the entire organization.