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What Is BYOD? Understanding the Risks and Hidden Costs

Posted by Christian Kline


What is BYOD?

Businesses are faced with navigating between two extremes of security and efficiency when deciding how to integrate mobile devices. One popular approach is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Opening the Pandora’s box of the BYOD policy has created several long-term security and financial concerns from the ensuing explosion in the number of tablets, laptops, and smartphones. Because many of the negative consequences of BYOD policy are not immediately apparent, some organizations remain oblivious to smaller, compounding problems until it’s too late. Be aware of these common issues that accompany the BYOD policy.

Higher Than Expected Costs

Poorly understanding BYOD’s cost structure can lead to incorrect forecasts and cash flow headaches down the line. Low startup costs allure companies to opt for BYOD when really it is nearly as expensive as an Employee Provided Device (EPD) policy. What organizations do not always consider are subsequent expenses: management, software, and stipends. In fact, a 2018 Oxford Economics-Samsung study found that when accounting for these secondary costs, organizations with 10,000 employees saw only a 7% cost saving using BYOD as compared to EPD. However, an Aberdeen Group study was less optimistic and estimated BYOD cost organizations 33% more than EPD. Where BYOD certainly becomes more expensive than EPD, according to the Oxford Economics-Samsung study, is in its inferior productivity value.

Stifled Productivity

Traditionally, BYOD is understood as a less secure but more efficient framework in relation to EPD. After all, employees should theoretically feel more comfortable with their own device and, therefore, be more productive. But the same Oxford Economics-Samsung study notes only 41% of BYOD only respondents said they could “access work-critical information quickly and efficiently,” compared to 71% of Broad EPD respondents. The study concludes employees are more satisfied with EPD as a productivity solution. Why is this? One explanation that comes to mind is inconsistent wireless network connections for BYOD devices. In addition, many Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions for BYOD devices usually grant employees more latitude with device usage for personal reasons, increasing the likelihood of decreased functionality for work-related purposes.


The most obvious of BYOD’s problems are its security flaws. The National Institute of Standards and Technology outlines six security concerns related to BYOD: “lack of physical security controls, use of untrusted mobile devices, use of untrusted networks, use of untrusted applications, interaction with other systems, use of untrusted content, and use of location services.” Without a comprehensive system to address these issues, company’s make their devices vulnerable to a host of threats including viruses, worms, ransomware, and unscrupulous employees. Vulnerable businesses using BYOD risk data loss, data leaks, and decreased device functionality. For organizations using BYOD in healthcare or retail with information compliance concerns (e.g. HIPPA and PCI-DSS respectively), it is critical to set up a suitable proactive system. Although an IT managed services provider can reduce many of these security risks, irreducible is the fact that more devices will always create more attack vectors.


Despite these concerns, BYOD will always have a role to play. Businesses should consider which employees would benefit the most from BYOD devices instead of issuing them out carte blanche. Otherwise, organizations will find themselves paying not just higher, long-term costs but also experiencing losses in productivity and security vulnerabilities. Investing in the right IT managed services provider can help businesses using BYOD save money, decrease downtime, increase efficiency, and protect data.

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Key Takeaways:

  • BYOD cost organizations 33% more than EPD.
  • Employees who use EPD devices report feeling 30% more effective than BYOD users reported.
  • Improper management of BYOD devices puts businesses at risk for data loss, data leaks, and decreased device functionality.



Topics: Security, IT Strategy, Capital managemet