Because mobile devices were traditionally complex and expensive, they were relegated only to companies that provided those devices. However, as devices got easier to use and more affordable, people began to purchase personal devices. As this number grew, people wanted to use one device for both personal and business. So many small business owners are now need to make a choice. BYOD or COPE? Or “Bring Your Own Device” vs. “Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled”.
The Typical Solution – BYOD. According to the CDW Small Business Mobility Report for 2012, nearly 9 out of 10 of small-business employees use their personal mobile devices for work. But how do you support and more importantly secure all of these devices? The scary thing is that most small businesses don’t even try! The survey found that only 1 out of 5 small businesses have deployed (or plan to deploy) any systems for managing and securing employees’ personal devices.
The Alternative – Is COPE Any Better? A minority of small businesses has implemented a Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (“COPE”) policy instead. They buy their employees’ mobile devices, secure them, and then let employees load additional personal applications that they want or need. And the employers control what types of apps can be added too. And the “personally enabled” aspect of COPE allows employees to choose the company-approved device they prefer while permitting them to use it both personally and professionally. COPE is certainly more controlled and secure, but for a business with a limited budget, buying devices for every employee can add up pretty quick. If you go the COPE route and are large enough to buy in volume, you can likely negotiate substantial discounts.
Security Concerns With BYOD. If you have client information that must be kept secure or other industry specific regulations regarding the security of client data, then COPE is likely your best approach. It takes out any gray area of whose data is whose. Plus there is a certain comfort level in being able to recover or confiscate any device for any reason at any time to protect your company without any worries of device ownership.
Advice For BYOD Companies. Despite the numerous advantages of COPE, most small businesses will still choose BYOD because it can save them money. Here are 2 of Lawrence Reusing’s (GM of mobile security at Imation) important rules for BYOD. Consider these when creating your mobile device policy.
- Assume employees will use personal devices on the corporate network even if they are told not to. Half of employees use personal devices to take confidential data out of companies every day.
- Assume employees value convenience more than security. If your policies are inconvenient, employees will work around them.