Bring your own device (BYOD) was one of the top enterprise buzzwords of 2012, as the movement rapidly gained popularity across different organizations. According to a recent Telework Exchange report, federal government employees are embracing BYOD initiatives - but they may not be practicing the safest strategies.
"We can all agree employees are mobile," said Cindy Auten, general manager of Telework Exchange. "It is our responsibility to ensure access to government data is secure."
The survey found that 95 percent of respondents reported enhanced productivity from using their mobile devices for work-related purposes, saving them an average of nine hours per week. Improved communications methods (cited by 61 percent of respondents), customer service (62 percent) and collaboration (47 percent) were also found to be major benefits of BYOD.
According to the study, federal employees have gotten so used to bringing their laptops, tablets and smartphones to work - and enjoy using their mobile devices so much - that they're willing to sacrifice some of their paychecks. Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they would pay to have their agencies certify their devices.
Better security measures needed
While the benefits of using personal devices for work are undeniable, the survey also revealed that many government organizations aren't ready to safely practice BYOD. More than 60 percent of respondents said their agency had yet to establish a BYOD policy, while 28 percent were unsure.
"BYOD policy is one of the most critical issues this year for the federal government when developing mobility policies and platforms," Auten recently told FCW. "There's a real need for ensuring there is comprehensive and consistent policies across the board, for all agencies. I think what the survey shows is a critical need for agencies to stay ahead so we don't get into a situation where data is compromised because of this."
Currently, only 11 percent of government agencies have BYOD policies in place. To complicate matters, while more than half of employees said they use a personal device for work, one-third of respondents don't even use password protection capabilities.
Because of the sensitive nature of the information these organizations are responsible for, I believe mobile data security management needs to become a priority. This includes a multi-layered approach, from developing BYOD policies to educating workers on security risks and strategies.
On the bright side, Auten told FCW that the majority of federal employees have reviewed mobile device security information (80 percent) and are partaking in training programs (74 percent).