BYOP – Bring Your Own Phone | Tele-Tech Services Blog

BYOP – Bring Your Own Phone

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably familiar with the acronym BYOD (Bring your own Device). It has other variants such as “BYOC” and “BYOPC”. The term describes the trend in some companies to allow employees to use their preferred personal tech devices as tools for doing company work.

This article talks about the pros and cons of allowing employees to use their own smartphones for not only making and receiving calls for company work, but also all the company information that will be stored on that device.

BYOP In the News

Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton made negative news recently with her email scandal. She thought she was being so clever by consolidating her email accounts so she would only need to carry one phone instead of a personal and a government one. Without going into the details of the scandal, it’s obvious that she’s was unaware that you could have more than one email account on a personal smart phone.

The point here is that Hilary’s example demonstrates the need that most of us have to be able to carry only one smart phone. Today’s  iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 take up enough real estate on your belt or in your purse that you certainly would not want two of them!

The BYOP idea is good for company’s bottom line as it saves the cost of having to purchase phone equipment for every new hire. Or, the need to lock into two-year cell contracts that might last longer than the term of employment.

Securing Company Data

Getting company email (and associated attachments) on to an employee’s phone is not a complex task anymore. However, what is daunting is being sure that phone is protecting that data. Other than the obvious physical loss of the device, the silent villain is the software on the personal BYOP that can siphon data from other parts of the phone. Download any Android App these days and the amount of permissions and access they require is overwhelming. Who knows what regions of the phone we are giving the application free access too!

There are products that are designed to protect corporate data on personal smartphones. The usual method is by creating a container of sorts that puts a secure wrapper around the company data and blocks access from other non-business applications. While this author is not endorsing any particular solution, a couple examples are BLUEBOX or MOKA5.

This time, It’s Personal

Part of what makes the whole concept of BYOP a slippery slope is that smartphones are so personal. They are almost literally extensions of our personality.  As such, they are highly customized. This customization comes with the potential to comprise adherence to company policy and security.

Splitting the bill

The common practice of most company BYOP policies is to a pay a flat allowance to the employee to offset the use of the phone for company purposes. And, while most mobile phone consumers have an unlimited calling minutes plan, data is a different story. If consumption of 4G data is required to perform company tasks then some policy documentation needs to be put in place to describe the expectations or limitations.

Bring Lawyers, Guns and Money

In the last decade, the common analogy people were using to discuss the legal and liability ramifications for BYOD was that of an employee using their car for company purposes. That seemed to hold some water, but when you get down in the weeds, there are some major differences between an automobile and a device that contains very sensitive company data. That data could have an exponentially larger amount of liability to the company than a car. Remember when the Veteran’s Administration employee lost the laptop with all the social security numbers on it?

It is very important to bring your legal resources to bear in planning a meticulous policy to cover the use of personal smartphones for company use. Because, until some major technological break-through comes along, the BYOP movement is going to be here for a while.


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