Are you Building Your Own Downfall?

by Ahmad Azrai of on Sunday, 28 October 2012 16:00

PRACTICALLY everyone has a smartphone and/or tablet nowadays — from the two-year-old at the next table whose Angry Birds score is higher than yours, all the way to the elderly makcik who used to shun technology more high tech than a gas stove but who now swears by (and occasionally swearing at) her SamsApple iTab.

The fact is, devices are much cheaper now than they have ever been. They also are so darned handy and nowhere as heavy as those brick-thick handphones used to be, which means they are slowly becomes a basic necessity.

Of course, as with any trend, businesses soon saw an advantage in letting staff buy their own devices, but which could still be used to do work. Enter the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), hailed as the greatest invention after the birth of the Internet itself.

But, think about it; it’s YOUR device. You spent your own money on it: so how far should your employer be able to control how you use it — or, just as importantly, what you can or cannot store on it?

“Let’s face it, when you let your company data go out of your secure office network environment, you are already taking a risk,” says Shin Fujikawa, emerging markets inside sales director for endpoint security and management solutions giant Absolute Software. “In the course of dealing with some of the biggest firms out there, I keep coming across one very common attitude they all have: if you’re dealing with your employer’s data, your right to privacy is as good as gone.”

His colleague Mark Grace, global consumer vice president (Asia Pacific/Latin America/Commercial), agrees. “We don’t take sides — but at Absolute, we deal with a lot of sensitive information, as well as with software that can track down not only the devices but the information within them too. If a company comes to us with a legitimate reason, and uses proper procedures for taking action on an employee’s device, then it has to be done.”

“Of course, we can actually be selective about what we do with the device — ie, we can choose to affect only files that pertain to work, leaving the rest of the private things alone and intact. It’s all done in a transparent manner, and we always advise our clients carefully of issues and consequences every step of the way,” he says.

Well, considering that the current generation shares almost everything on Facebook and only know 1984 as “a year way before I was born” and not an allegory about control, it might not be so much of a privacy issue. Then again, a line should be drawn somewhere — after all, continuous harassment from employers will not help morale at all. And paying for your own potential problems has too much irony even for the likes of Tony Stark.

“You will see the emergence of a battle between the chief finance officer (CFO) and the chief information officer (CIO),” Grace said. “The CFO will say, ‘I’m not going to spend money on stuff that our employees would buy themselves!’, whereas the CIO will go, ‘I can’t be responsible for stuff that is not ours! And I can’t possibly be expected to remember and control almost everything that our employees own!’.”

It still sounds iffy, though — particularly where legal recourse is concerned. Work contracts that were signed years before BYOD was even a fevered meme would either have to be reworked, or left void and null if and when a situation occurs. And let’s face, that is very likely to happen anyway, at least according tp the law as dictated by Mr Murphy.

“We at Absolute are increasingly telling our clients that if they want to pursue BYOD, they are going to have to rethink their NDAs and human resource policies to take employee rights and the company’s needs into account. And that will take quite some time,” Grace says.

Still, since a lot of people have two phones, it just might be easiest to dedicate one device for work, and one for your personal life. Just don’t get the two mixed up, though; you wouldn’t want your boss querying why you aren’t doing work, whilst at the same time beating you at Words with Friends…

Source: The Edge

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