February 28, 2013, 4:43 PM — We all love our gadgets, but some of our favorite devices, however innocent they may appear, are poised to overwhelm IT departments worldwide.
Like it or not, the "bring your own device," or BYOD, trend is now a permanent fixture among businesses big and small. Sure, some companies still prohibit employees from integrating personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones into their IT infrastructures, but their numbers are quickly dwindling. BYOD is a matter of "when" not "if," so businesses and IT admins must understand the risks involved and determine the most effective and secure ways to embrace all these alien gadgets.
When Paul Proctor, vice president and security analyst for Gartner, moderated a panel discussion on BYOD at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco this week, he classified four different approaches to BYOD: containerization, embrace, block, and ignore.
"Containerization" allows for BYOD but carves out a separate space for business-related data and communications. Meanwhile, companies that "embrace" BYOD have a no-holds-barred, bring-it-on ethos when it comes to hardware and security management. "Block" characterizes companies that actively ban BYOD, while "ignore" describes organizations that pretend the issue doesn't exist.
Proctor also shared Gartner research that crystallizes just how widespread BYOD has become. According to Gartner's numbers, 47% of today's businesses use containerization, 30% embrace BYOD, 15% block it, and 8% ignore it. But what's more interesting are Gartner's projections for how the next three years will shape up: The embrace model will double to 60%, containerization will drop to around 38%, block will plummet to below 3%, and ignore will completely cease being an option.
Richard Stiennon, security analyst for IT-Harvest, puts it more bluntly. "Resistance is futile," he says. "IT departments have always resisted consumer-driven change. Email, Web browsing, and Wi-Fi are all innovations that were initially blocked. Every organization should embrace BYOD. It's the future."