Users are breaking IT’s mobile device policies

Some companies let employees use their own personal tech gadgets for work, while others have policies against it. But a recent survey shows employees are doing it no matter what.

Most companies have yet to develop policies banning personal devices for work use, according to security vendor Proofpoint’s “2011 Consumerized IT Security and Compliance Survey.”

Of the 632 IT managers surveyed, 84% said their companies allow personal devices in their organization. The other 16% have policies against people using their own technology for work purposes.

Why do so few companies have such policies? One explanation could be that it’s still a new issue and companies have yet to form solid rules. But it’s also likely due to the fact that the so-called “consumerization” of IT has both risks and benefits.

Of course, allowing users to hold corporate data on personal smartphones, tablets and other devices could lead to that information being lost or stolen if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

But it can also give employees the opportunity to do more work when, where and how they want to, leading to higher productivity and job satisfaction.

The key, experts say, is coming up with procedures that minimize the risks of personal devices, while avoiding an outright ban.

Especially since such policies are often ignored, anyway. Of the companies surveyed by Proofpoint that had policies against personal devices, 64% believed employees were using their own gadgets anyway.

To minimize the risks and maximize the benefits, experts recommend companies:

  1. Look at each employee’s job individually – some rarely or never deal with sensitive information
  2. Consider specifying which devices employees can and can’t use – some are more secure than others, and
  3. Create policies describing what types of information can and can’t be held on personal devices.

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