Mobility in today’s business environment is no longer a nice to have, it’s an absolute must. Employees out on the road are no longer subject to cursory office drop-ins to check on email and send off important documents. And desk dwellers seldom keep to office hours these days as they routinely read or respond to emails late into the evening or on their morning commute. This transition in working behaviour has been entrenched thanks to the fact that mobile devices have become somewhat attached to our palms and fuelled an ‘always-on’ generation.
But a plethora of growing and diverse mobile devices needing access to priority data presents a complex problem for the IT teams mandated to protect and preserve the integrity of their company networks. So what’s the solution? Most organisations have adopted policies and procedures to ensure that employees are provided mobile access when and where they need it, the most common being BYOD, and more recently, CYOD.
BYOD and CYOD: Definitions and Differences
BYOD is the acronym for Bring Your Own Device and allows staff to utilise their personally selected mobile devices as business equipment. CYOD stands for Choose Your Own Device and this entails organisations providing employees with a panel of pre-approved devices to choose from.
BYOD generally offers businesses a cost saving in procurement as, typically speaking, devices are purchased and maintained by employees and not the company. They’re also highly familiar with their own devices and therefore most organisations can expect higher productivity. But as with most things in life, the benefits of BYOD come at an expense.
Unfortunately in the business sector, this policy leaves organisations vulnerable to security threats, or at worst, breaches. As employees are accessing the company network and the often sensitive data contained therein from the devices that they own and manage, the business has only a limited level of control of what security and applications are being run and maintained on the device. There are few employees out there who’re tech-savvy enough to ensure that corporate data is fully protected on their personal device, and the rest don’t give it much thought at all.
CYOD is an enhancement to the BYOD policy in that it provides the corporate IT department with significantly more control over the ‘fleet’ of devices accessing their network and data. Because in the CYOD scenario the company has a pre-determined selection of devices they support, they’re able to keep a tighter reign on the setup and maintenance thereof. They can pre-install security software and approved applications and setup administrator, firewall and network settings. This boosted control also means that in the case of device theft or loss, the IT department are able to effect remote lock and wipe process, adding a layer of security not often found with a BYOD approach. Another advantage is being able to provide comprehensive mobile support as there’s a limited range of devices to manage.
Which is Best?
The decision between BYOD or CYOD will depend on your specific business structure, purpose, employees and the level of risk you’re able to withstand on a data front. For those with a limited budget and less sensitive information, a BYOD policy (with a bit of online security education for employees) will probably suffice in the short- to medium-term. But for those with proprietary data, specialised applications and software or a bigger workforce, you may be better off exploring the CYOD option.
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