Concerns about employee privacy for BYOD exposed
Posted on 28 September 2012.
Business users are alarmed about employers' ability to access and collect personally identifiable information (PII) through mobile devices, such as iPhones, iPads and Androids, according to a Harris survey.


The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) raises a significant management challenge for companies and has implications that go beyond the IT department. Although many may not know it, some employers are able to track employee locations during work and non-work hours, which applications they've installed and review or delete personal pictures and music.

Location and app inventory information is available whenever employees "opt-in" to a mobile device management application the solution that enables BYOD, security, policy enforcement, and app management for many organizations. The removal of personal files, pictures and music is also possible, even if the user is simply getting access to corporate email through Exchange ActiveSync. Unless they are specifically informed through an acceptable user agreement and mobile policy, many employees have no idea that this is possible.

The survey found that business users are overwhelmingly concerned, and would not allow employers to have this access into their personal lives.

The results show significant employee concern:
  • 82 percent of respondents consider this ability to be "tracked" an invasion of their privacy. Tracking is easily accomplished through a number of technologies built into most of the popular smartphones. Tracking with an MDM solution can be accomplished using GPS and triangulation, which provides a company with a way to locate where a device is physically located.
  • Similarly, 76 percent of respondents would not give their employer access to view what applications are installed on their personal device. What users install on their personal device is considered private information.
  • 75 percent of respondents would not allow their employer to install an app on their personal phone which gives the company the ability to locate them during work and non-work hours in exchange for receiving corporate email and gaining access to other corporate resources.
  • Business users expressed a great deal of concern about their employers looking into their lives. In fact, very few respondents expressed no concern.
"No other IT tool is attached at the hip or full of personal data quite like a smartphone or tablet," said Chris Hazelton, Research Director for Mobile & Wireless at 451 Research. "Because of this, it is critical that IT is able to provide a level of privacy where applicable, particularly around location and app usage, for the growing number of employees who are choosing to bring their own devices to work."





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