I was rather astounded to read the recent New Your Tines article, Where Apps Meet Work, Secret Data Is at Risk by Quentin Hardy.  I realized that there are organizations where employees are employing hundreds of personal applications and allowing those apps to interact with corporate information.

Let's Bring Your Own Apps

I knew it was bad; even in our not-Fortune-1000 company we have a lot of apps running loose, but I had no idea it was THIS BAD or THIS BIG.  BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device” has become a popular boardroom topic, yet I think the boardroom is not talking about BYOA – the current trend of “Bring Your Own App” to the workplace to get your work done.  The problem is very well highlighted in the NYT post.

Netflix Example

Netflix, for example, found employees using 496 smartphone apps, primarily for data storage, communication, and collaboration.  Cisco found hundreds of personal apps in use.  Evernote, the cloud-based notetaking service, got hacked, and more than fifty million account passwords had to be reset (which of course means fifty million accounts became vulnerable).  Wow.  Yes, these are the numbers that caused my stomach to churn.

But here's where the rubber meets the road, where the river meets the sea, where the fit hits the shan (as one of my high school teachers used to say):  Are organizations addressing the cause of the problem or just the problem?

What's Your Policy?

A BYOD policy is a requirement.  A BYOA policy is apparently even more important.  However, these address the problem – not the cause of the problem.

Why do people need Evernote?  What about Dropbox, or Box, or YouSendIt?  Are users using three different calendar applications?  Does the user community require virtual sticky notes all over the screen?  Do we need to upload files to iCloud so we can use them on a different device when we get home at night?

These are the symptoms of a network infrastructure that is not keeping up with the times, and the true cost of the “consumerization of IT.”

Can you get rid of Evernote issues by providing training and a more robust platform for the OneNote that you likely already have licensed for all of your users?  Or avoid the large file exchange issues by having an internet-accessible corporate portal with authentication?  Perhaps you lose the xCloud by delivering a desktop experience via Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI?

BYOA Conclusion

Providing a platform for the way people need and want to work today is potentially the biggest challenge facing Corporate IT.  The cost of remediating a single breach far exceeds the cost of streamlining the services provided to the user community.  Don't believe that?  As cited in the NYT article, “Florida's Juvenile Just Department reported that 114,538 youth and employee records had disappeared when a mobile storage device with no password was stolen.  The state will pay for a year of credit monitoring for everyone whose data was lost.”  At the bargain basement price of $14.95 per month per person, that single breach comes to a cost of over twenty million dollars.  Even at half price, that would pay for a lot of network platform, training, applications, and user awareness.  Oh, and policy writing – because, if nothing else, a BYOA policy is a critical CYA step.

Next Steps

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