Can the New BlackBerry 10 Make BYOD Safer for Small Business?

By: Donna Ray Berkelhammer. This was posted Monday, February 4th, 2013

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Companies that can’t afford to provide a smartphone or tablet computer for their employees often allow employees to conduct company business on their personal devices, a practice known as BYOD or Bring Your Own Device.

While this certainly addresses the economic issues, it raises a host of technology, security, privacy, and liability issues.

Many employees track customer contacts or project tasks via software. Can the employee access CRM or ERP or customer portals from his or her personal device? How many device platforms can the information technology department support?

Many companies exchange confidential information via email.  Does the employee’s device contain  security measures that will protect company trade secrets and other confidential information? What happens if the employee loses the device?  Can the confidential information be wiped out remotely? Is the device password-protected? Will apps leak sensitive corporate information?

What happens if the employee is fired or quits abruptly?  How can the company easily retrieve its proprietary information or block the employee’s continued access?

What happens if the employee downloads “inappropriate” or illegal material on the device — could the company be liable since the device is also used for company business?

While well-considered BYOD policies can address many of these issues, BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) is pinning its renaissance in this space.  The soon-to-launch BlackBerry Z10 has an interesting new feature:

IT  managers will be able to segregate business-related apps and data  from employees’ personal material. Corporate data can be remotely wiped from an employee’s phone but personal photos, e-mails, music and apps will be untouched. The system can also block users from forwarding or copying information from the work side of the phone. Meanwhile, certain information, generated by e-mail, TwitterFacebook, instant messaging and LinkedIn accounts, would be consolidated into a single in-box.

These features address some important security and liability issues, but are no substitute for a BYOD policy that includes confidentiality, security, technical support and financial considerations.

 

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