There’s no turning back from the BYOD wave, but it doesn’t have to be a threat to data security, says Adam Ely, founder and chief operating officer of US-based start-up Bluebox. 
BYOD has long been a concern for CIOs and CISOs as they grapple with the challenges of enabling a mobile workforce, using the devices of their choice, but still try to protect critical data across a range of platforms and devices. In some enterprises, the solution has been to simply restrict the use of personal devices.

“For most organisations, it’s too late to stop BYOD – it’s like a train that came barrelling in. Fortunately, it’s not too late to manage it,” says Ely.

Ely notes that BYOD is beneficial for enterprises.
“It makes users more productive. When a user has a device they love and carry anyway, accessing enterprise applications on those devices enables them to work wherever they are and increases their response time. So, BYOD managed properly is a good. We see this as a major factor in sectors like IT and technology, where skills are scarce, therefore increasing productivity is especially important.”

However, the key to achieving the benefits without the risks is proper management, says Ely.
“Many companies are still in the early stages of mobile maturity, therefore they haven’t allowed a great deal of access. As a result, they have not yet encountered major security pitfalls as a result. But their enterprise data is on those devices, and it is only a matter of time before we see major information security problems developing.”
Ely says some early mobile enterprise adopters have already experienced  issues such as compromised devices,  the loss of data or data that turns up in the hands of competitors or in the public eye.

“With the rapid adoption rate of mobile, we can expect to see major shifts. Within the year we will see more problems of leakage and theft. In two years, it will be more rampant and commonplace,” he says.

However, Ely says effective management of BYOD is within reach.
“It’s all very manageable. Mobile is just a new ecosystem, and management starts with an understanding of this ecosystem, how people use it, what data they are interacting with and what data they need. You need insight into where the data flows on and off the device, and apply proper controls in the right places.”