Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) started life as a cool thing – a way for people to use the technology they are most familiar with and love in the workplace. But lately things seem are taking a turn for the worse. Some companies are now requiring people to bring their own technology and considering these “tools of the trade”, much like carpenters and plumbers are expected to bring their own tools. Of course this view doesn’t take into account that technology is very expensive and needs to be replaced often.
Nor does it take into account that those devices contain very personal details, something that certainly doesn’t happen with a hammer, and that raises the question of what can your employer see when they install their software on your machine?
Of course if you are using a company wi-fi in the office then they can see just about anything transmitted through that, so watch your activity on social media and use HTTPS connections when you can.
If you are using your own data plan then what they can see is much more restricted, however a company can see your wireless carrier, country, make and model, operating system version, battery level, phone number, location, storage use, corporate email and corporate data. If you’re thinking of taking a ‘sick day’ and playing golf then you might want to leave the phone by your bed.
The company can also see the names of all the apps on the device, both personal and work-related. This visibility has led to some companies blacklisting apps on a BYOD smartphone or tablet. It’s important to note that a company cannot see the data within apps.
Finally it is important to realize is that employers cannot guarantee that no-one will look at your personal information in today’s litigious society.
Personal devices may be subject to search and review in the event of litigation that involves an employer , which can include any business information on the phone. It’s just like any other piece of evidence, document or computer that could be confiscated and looked at for evidence.
In such extreme cases, all data on a BYOD smartphone or tablet becomes fair game leaving you without your personal device and with a group of people who you don’t know nosing through your pictures and text messages.
Is it worth it? The jury is still out. Personally I love only having to carry one device but it still leaves me feeling uncomfortable.