Recently, Telework Exchange released its 2013 Digital Dilemma Report on the impact personal mobile devices are having on the federal workplace.
Not surprisingly, smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices are ubiquitous, but what might surprise you is that the report found more than half of all federal employees use their personal devices at work, regardless of support for them or even an official bring-your-own device (BYOD) policy.
Federal workers are intent on using their devices for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of the increase in productivity that these devices provide. Not only do they cover the gap when agency-provided technology fails, but personal devices are cited as improving communication and providing better service to customers – all of which results in improved productivity and cost savings.
However, while these metrics are certainly the kind of information that agencies, such as the Government Accountability Office, want to hear and agency customers like to experience, there’s also cause for concern. Most agencies don’t have a formal BYOD policy in place. Where there is no formal BYOD policy, there’s also no formal policy for device support and, in particular, for security updates.
In fact, according to the study, 61 percent of respondents said their agency does not have an official BYOD policy in place and another 28 percent revealed they did not know whether or not their agency had a policy in place.
This means that employees are exposing their devices, agencies, and government data to massive security risks. With malware attacks against government sites increasing by 185 percent in the last year, according to the GAO, the lack of a common security policy is a very real problem.
A strong BYOD policy encompasses not only the type of devices that can be supported by the IT team, but also covers security password requirements, patching and updating, as well as application security and, in the event of a lost device, the ability to execute a remote device to protect the data stored on the end point as well as the entire network to which it connects.
For most agencies, the reality of BYOD will require a quickly executed pilot program in order to catch up with the reality of how agency employees are actually working. The good news is that a handful of agencies, including Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Defense, and Health Human Services already have BYOD policies in place and might provide a useful baseline and some policy guidance.
Tell us, how are you using technology to improve your productivity?