Workers said in a recent survey by Fiberlink (a cloud-based solutions company for secure mobile device and application management) that they fear employers’ ability to access and collect personally identifiable information (PII) through their smartphones. In fact, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has been a hot issue for IT departments recently, in particular, the safety risks it imposes on companies. According to Fiberlink, BYOD to the workplace “raises a significant management challenge for companies.”
“No other IT tool is attached at the hip or full of personal data quite like a smartphone or tablet,” said Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless at 451 Research. “Because of this, it is critical that IT is able to provide a level of privacy where applicable, particularly around location and app usage, for the growing number of employees who are choosing to bring their own devices to work.”
Although most smartphone users are unaware of it, Fiberlink says employers are able to “track employee locations during work and non-work hours, which application they’ve installed and review or delete personal pictures and music.”
With claims such as these, it seems reasonable for employees to feel it risky to bringing their mobile devices to work.
According to the survey, 82 percent respondents consider such “tracking” an invasion of privacy.
Fiberlink says that many employees have no idea that it is possible for employers to “opt-in” to a mobile device management application and find location and app inventory information on that specified employee.
In addition, 82 percent of respondents say they are “concerned to extremely concerned” about their employers tracking Internet history during non-working hours.
Also, 86 percent say they are, once again, “concerned to extremely concerned” about the possibility of an employer deleting their personal pictures, music, and email profiles.
Additional information found from Fiberlink includes:
- 76 percent of respondents note they would “not give their employer access to view what applications are installed on their personal device.”
- 75 percent would not allow employers to “install an app on their personal phone” allowing the company the “ability to locate them during work and non-work hours in exchange for receiving corporate email and gaining access to other corporate resources.”
“Bring Your Own Device policies are commonplace across most organizations. The survey results show that the vulnerability of personally identifiable information is a significant concern, and that organizations need to be just as concerned about user privacy as they are about the security of corporate data,” said Christopher Clark, president at Fiberlink.
Clark says, however, that the “situation can be easily solved by IT by using a mobile device management solution that can set Privacy Settings to stop collecting personal data from staff members.” Clark also notes that these measures are rarely put in place.