The Dark Side of BYOD

Are you using your own smartphone at work? If so, you're not alone -- by 2017, Gartner predicts that half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes. But what happens when you quit or get fired? If you're using your own device for work, you'll undoubtedly have months, if not years, of personal information on that phone -- including photos of loved ones, texts between friends, and other (very) personal information. You could lose all of that, along with access to your corporate accounts.

(Photo Credit: Robert Agthe/flickr)

Unfortunately, if and when you leave a company, your employer is able to wipe your phone with little or no advance warning. These companies claim they need to secure their data which former employees may have access to after they leave the company. In fact, 21 percent of companies perform remote wipes when an employee quits or is terminated, according to a July 2013 survey by data protection firm Acronis Inc. For now, this practice is completely legal.

Phone wiping represents the dark side of bringing your own device to work (or BYOD). Both employers and employees have taken to the trend, as it cuts down on costs and allows employees to carry around fewer gadgets. Employers can also expect employees to be available 24/7 when they know the employee is using their personal device. However, as employers are beginning to wipe these devices -- and with it, personal information that can't be recovered -- employees may be less inclined to use their own device as their work device as well. Since the companies that wipe devices are so concerned about data, it's not likely they would allow the employee to back up their phone just in case, either -- meaning that BYOD could cause these employees to lose their personal information at the end of their employment, regardless of what they do.

Before you BYOD to work, it's important to talk to your boss about what will happen to your data if and when you leave your job. Consider asking for a BYOD user agreement to ensure your personal data is protected. If your employer can't promise your information is secure, you may want to ask for a separate device -- and then use it only for work, keeping your personal data and information safe. 

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