BYOD vs. CYOD: What's The Best Fit For Your Business?

The last few years have been all about BYOD – or bring your own device – an IT revolution that freed employees from the shackles of dated or unsuitable hardware in favor of, well, whatever they wanted to use. The benefits are obvious: most employees have their own computers at home and know how to use them, so they can spend more time getting down to business and less time trying to work out why this application doesn’t have that feature.

But there are big drawbacks to BYOD as well, and most of them concern security. First there’s the fact that company data is leaving the premises every evening, and what happens to it off-site often has IT staff pulling their hair out. According to Osterman Research, 15% of employees believe they have “none to minimal” responsibility to protect corporate data stored on their personal device, which raises big questions.

With so many different devices, and with most combining business and personal data and applications, keeping a BYOD fleet secure is a near-impossible task. That’s why a variant on BYOD has sprung up recently to mitigate the risk. CYOD, or choose your own device, still gives employees the freedom to use a device they know and understand, but it narrows the options to a pre-approved list. Effectively it adds much-needed variety to a fleet of standard computers.

The security benefits to CYOD are huge, as each system can be pre-installed with the appropriate security software and set up with the appropriate administrator, firewall and network settings. With only a few different specifications to support, it’s much easier to keep track of equipment, and to ensure employees are complying with data requirements.

The downside for any company that’s shown its employees the freedom of BYOD is the relative lack of choice. It’s important to ensure the range of CYOD options is appealing enough to get employees to “buy in” to the scheme, or it’s not much better than simply rolling out a fleet of identical machines.

CYOD is beginning to win out over plain BYOD, and it’s easy to see why. The surge of BYOD in recent years saved companies big money on hardware, but led to both expected and unforeseen issues. After a period of acclimation for companies and employees, the fact that CYOD is growing says everything about its effective blend of the old and new ways.

Whether your company runs a BYOD or CYOD scheme, it’s important to ensure your company data remains secure in all situations and companies such as Symantec have a range of business security solutions to help protect your network.

And businesses of all sizes can help protect themselves by following a number of simple steps, as Justin Martin, Regional Product Manager, Mobile Solutions, explains below.

Tip #1: Choose a strategy and products focussed on user empathy and productivity. Many of us are crafty and will often circumvent these technologies to get our job done, thinking; “I’m being more productive so it’s ok”. Test products end to end as an end user regardless of device. You will soon find out where your company fits, in a CYOD or a BYOD model. Ensure every member of the IT team who solves mobile problems has a clear understanding of the problems they are tackling.

Tip #2: Regardless of BYOD/CYOD, employ a best of breed Data Loss Prevention product that is well integrated into your mobile product and your strategy. Choose a leading product designed to keep your IP and data from leaving the business space. This will also mean that data won’t leave the smaller devices you have today, or in the future when we all have slick wearable computers that command our devices and integrate with our speech. 

Tip #3: Assemble the right team. Mobile projects should include members from I.T., Legal, H.R., Security Operations, and the business. All of these groups have a vested interest in the productivity and security of the mobile workspace. Each will have needs and will have to make concessions to get the project moving at a speed that matches the mobile market. Tap into vendors like Norton, which have a squadron of resources to help align teams and solve mobile computing problems regardless of who owns the device.