The upside to the bring-your-own-device movement is that it can reduce the cost of buying devices and produce happier and more productive employees.
The main downside, however, is that companies lose control of the devices connecting to their network. And that risk is significant given that four out of five employees are using personally owned devices in some way for work, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of security firm ESET.
"The diversity of devices out there will make it more costly to securely access data," says Randy Abrams, research director for NSS Labs, a security consultancy. Employees may be happier, but BYOD taxes IT departments and raises the cost of data security.
Yet trying to keep employees' devices off the network may prove futile. Even without much support from IT, 81% of workers used a personal device for work, according to the Harris Interactive survey. And with up-front device savings luring companies to embrace BYOD, it's unlikely the trend will lose steam, says Wendy Nather, security research director at the 451 Group, an analyst firm. "Companies should give up pretending that they own the devices," Nather says. "BYOD is a war that was lost from the beginning."