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BYOD Moves Beyond Office to Classroom

BYOD and BYOT surge in popularity in small businesses and public schools despite the risks.

Monday, March 24, 2014/Categories: cyber-risk

Bring-Your-Own-Device policies (commonly called BYOD) in small technology companies are becoming more and more common, as TechInsurance mentioned earlier this year. Now, according to the New York Times, public school districts are adopting similar Bring-Your-Own-Technology (BYOT) policies for their students.

It seems that school officials agree with small-business owners that the cyber security risks BYOD and BYOT policies introduce are justified by the rewards such policies offer. Unfortunately, the main benefit that both owners of small tech firms and administrators of public schools seem concerned with is saving money.

Is BYOT / BYOD Really Less Expensive?

On the surface, the potential to save money by implementing a BYOD or BYOT policy is obvious and non-debatable: rather than providing technology for every employee or student, companies and schools allow employees and students to work from the devices they already have.

But BYOD or BYOT policies shouldn’t be a default decision based on budgetary necessity. Why? They expose organizations to a number of potentially costly risks, including…

  • Loss of data. For businesses and schools alike, allowing personal devices opens the door to more data breaches. Personally owned devices are also harder to regulate by an IT team, meaning that in addition to running the risk of having information stolen or compromised by external forces, BYOT or BYOD policies increase the odds that students or employees will misplace important data accidentally, which could create more work for everyone.
  • Identity theft. Students who are constantly online face ongoing exposure to identity theft and constant opportunities to compromise their sensitive data. While employees of tech companies may be savvy enough to avoid the more common perils, students and less tech-savvy workers may be ill-prepared to guard themselves online.
  • Inefficiency. Not much has been said about the potential losses in efficiency when everyone in the office or the classroom is using different technology. Teachers may well start pulling their hair out trying to plan lessons that work on a handful of different devices, and employees in your business may lose a similar amount of time trying to create a unified experience across a variety of devices.

Making a BYOD or BYOT Policy Work for Your Tech Business

While BYOD and BYOT come with definite risks, these policies can be highly effective when used correctly. If you’re interested in letting your employees use their own devices, be sure that you come to the decision actively, after considering the potential risks and benefits, rather than letting BYOD happen as a default option when you run out of money for new equipment.

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