The US Government’s CIO Council has published an excellent toolkit to help organisations develop appropriate policies for employees to use their own laptops and smartphones for work (known as Bring Your Own Device or BYOD). The toolkit identifies three different technical approaches to controlling the security of the organisation’s information:
- Use virtualisation so that the device acts only as a terminal and information is never stored locally; or
- Allow local storage but only within organisation-controlled software (referred to as Walled Gardens); or
- Require only limited separation between organisation and personal data that can be implemented by a combination of policies, practices and technical controls agreed with the user/owner of the device.
Each of these (and indeed the fourth option of prohibiting BYOD) will be appropriate for different organisations and different information.
However the toolkit recognises that BYOD is not just, or even mainly, about technology. Moving from a mobile computing policy, where staff use company-owned and controlled laptops and smartphones, to BYOD may involve considerations of training, support systems (including cloud), shared financial contributions (for equipment purchase, connectivity charges and maintenance) and taxation, privacy, ethics (acceptable use on a device used for business may be different to a purely personal one) and even laws on employment, health and safety, freedom of information and evidence. The toolkit contains case studies of three US Government agencies with successful, but quite different, BYOD programmes and examples of the kinds of policies that may be required.
The toolkit reports that “in the right environment, BYOD programs can be an enormous success”. It should help other organisations in both government and industry to identify whether their environment is suitable and, if so, to achieve similar results.