Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is an IT consumerization trend in which individuals use their personal computing devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) for work-related or school-related tasks. BYOD has significant implications for network security and IT support, as well as employee satisfaction and productivity.

How BYOD Works

There are several considerations a business or a school needs to take into account when creating a safe BYOD environment. These include:

  • Security controls such as data encryption and password strength
  • Timeout controls and auto lock to prevent hacking if users walk away from their device
  • Anti-malware requirements to protect sensitive data
  • Acceptable websites and applications that prevent dangerous behavior and makes sure users are held accountable for their actions on the company network
  • Wiping policies for compromised devices so that they do not become a risk to other BYOD devices

BYOD Advantages

Many employees and students enjoy the flexibility of using their own devices either as a supplement to provided equipment or as a total substitution. They’re naturally more familiar with these devices, which leads to increased productivity and efficiency. In some cases, the flexibility of BYOD can also improve morale and workplace satisfaction.

BYOD can also have a positive impact on employers’ IT spending, as they are not paying for the device up front or maintenance/upgrade costs down the road. The flexibility of an employee using their own device also means they can easily work from any location, thereby positioning an employer to meet rising remote workforce trends. Similarly, BYOD policies can alleviate the burden of providing specialized equipment a student or employee might already own.

BYOD Disadvantages

While there are many benefits of BYOD policies, there are some notable drawbacks. First and foremost, personal devices make it difficult to streamline antivirus software, firewalls, and other types of software used to secure a network. This means data stored on those devices is often at risk of being accessed by an unauthorized user. BYOD also makes it difficult to guarantee an employee no longer has access to sensitive files and programs after they leave the company.

For this reason, an employer might implement detailed security requirements for each type of personal device that is connected to the corporate network and used for work-related tasks. For example, IT may require devices to be configured with passwords, prohibit specific types of applications from being installed on the device, or require all data on the device to be encrypted. Other BYOD security policy initiatives may include limiting activities that employees are allowed to perform on these devices at work (e.g. email and phone calls are permitted but social media is restricted) and periodic IT audits to ensure the device is in compliance with the company’s BYOD security policy.

Employees and students might also experience frustration when their equipment malfunctions and their organization’s IT staff aren’t able to easily troubleshoot or replace the device altogether. The question of accessibility and personal preference can also arise with BYOD policies: some employees or students might not be able to afford to purchase or upgrade the equipment required to do their work, or they may simply prefer to keep their personal devices separate from those used for work-related purposes.

BYOD VoIP Subscription

Another common use of the phrase is connected to the VoIP industry, where BYOD is used to describe a specific type of VoIP subscription model. Subscribers who have their own SIP-capable device when signing up for a VoIP service will usually be able to take advantage of a cheaper subscription plan when they use BYOD; however, not all VoIP service providers will offer special rate plans for subscribers with their own equipment. If a BYOD subscription is unavailable through a VoIP provider, customers must use the provider’s equipment instead of their own.

UPDATED: This article was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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