Hold The Phone: The New World of Mobile Device Management

With the proliferation of mobile devices in the workplace, security concerns have also arisen. Here’s a look at a new trouble spot as well as some tips on mitigating potential risks.

How comfortable are you with the idea that someone might be tracking your work laptop, tablet, or smartphone?

Reporters and staff at BBC News were not. Last month, staff members at the news outlet raised concerns after the company announced it was introducing new technology allowing it to track company-owned mobile devices.

BBC’s rationale for the new technology was location tracking—in case of lost or stolen devices, or, in a worst-case scenario, if a journalist is kidnapped—but, according to a survey conducted by the organization’s technology department, 51 percent of staff reported they did not want to be tracked at all (27 percent were OK with tracking for location purposes only), and 81 percent reported they did not trust the BBC not to misuse the tracking data.

With the proliferation of mobile devices—whether company or personally owned—device management has become source of concerns for both employees and employers.

On the employer side, for example, are the implications of bring-your-own-device practices. Studies have shown that anywhere from two-thirds to three-quarters of employers either currently allow or are planning to allow employees to use their own devices at work. Yet, some of those same studies illustrate that a majority of businesses are not interested in investing in mobile device security.

Allowing employees to access and connect to work-related data via their personal devices can pose significant security risks. Almost three-quarters of IT professionals reported that company data can be compromised when accessed this way, according to a 2013 survey by TEKsystems.

Given the potential security hazards, it’s important to establish a BYOD policy for your organization, Chris Jenkins, former chief technology strategist at the Ohio Society of CPAs, told Associations Now.

“Do not fear it,” he said of BYOD programs. “Like any other function of technology, it has costs and benefits. Take some time, make BYOD a priority, and plan it out. With proper planning, you’ll maintain a reasonable expense and offer excellent ROI.”

When creating a policy, don’t forget your legal risks. Last year, A.J. Zottola, a partner at Venable LLP in Washington, DC, shared some tips on mitigating some of those risks, including creating a policy that takes into consideration “trade secret protection, access to association email and other system-related resources, data breach response plans, sexual harassment and other equal employment opportunity matters, and employee-training initiatives.”

Have any advice on mobile device management? Please share in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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