The Double Danger of BYOD

17/07/2012 16:12 BST | Updated 15/09/2012 10:12 BST

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) describes the recent trend of employees bringing personally-owned mobile devices to their place of work, and using those devices to access privileged company resources such as email, file servers, and databases.

BYOD can be dangerous. Very dangerous. To start with, you have the common security concerns associated with a technical device: spyware, malware, viruses, and so forth. These are all exasperated by the fact that BYOD involves foreign devices coming into the office in an uncontrollable way.

Employees are bringing their own computers and tablets. Suddenly things like applications and virus software become variable.

However, security is not the only issue that comes with BYOD. Troubleshooting can also be a problem in an environment where users are bringing a multitude of different technologies.

There is the danger of more ghost/rogue applications happening via BYOD. According to a recent study, 38% of surveyed UK companies don't know what kind/how many applications are flowing over their networks - and this is within their own traditional office environment. 69% admitted to not understanding the bandwidth requirements networked applications demand.

These numbers could be made drastically worse by BYOD. Just like before, with external devices come the unknown. Employees may have numerous applications installed on their own tablets and their own computers. When employees come to the office with their own devices, these applications will suddenly be running, unmonitored and unrecognised, across the networks. They provide a direct security threat in that they may be carrying with them certain virus-prone weaknesses.

BYOD also provides an indirect threat. Additional devices running numerous applications could crash the networks themselves by putting too much stress on the available bandwidth. From photo sharing to social networking, employees operating on their own devices are more likely to use 'at home' applications while in the office.

Companies, who currently don't know what applications are happening where and when, will be operating more blindly than ever. Control is lost. Business is put at risk.

Already 82% of UK companies in a recent study noted that problems such as slowness or unresponsiveness are becoming more frequent. BYOD threatens to make these problems worse.

In short, BYOD can be particularly dangerous, posing security threats both in the traditional and the network-related sense.

Companies must be prepared to handle these challenges before they rush after BYOD.