ChannelLife NZ - Kiwi workers using unauthorised BYO apps

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Kiwi workers using unauthorised BYO apps

Workers across New Zealand are challenging company rules by using unauthorised BYO apps despite the risk of dismissal.

That is according to Unisys' 2012 New Zealand “Consumerisation of IT” research report into enterprise mobility.

The findings claim however that many large organisations see smartphones, tablets and employee-owned devices in the workplace as inevitable.

But the majority are lagging in providing employees with more than basic (email/calendar) mobile applications to take advantage of this new mobility.

Describing "this shortfall in support", the report says consequences include the downloading of unauthorised apps even though doing so may be prohibited, or even grounds for dismissal.

Of the interviewed workers, 24% of Kiwi employees said they had downloaded unauthorised mobile apps or PC software, currently below the global average of 38%.

Yet the result still represents a quarter of workers across the country, with the main reason for doing so was that workers need the software for work purposes and their employer didn’t provide an alternative (62%).

Aside from personal email apps and websites, the most common apps downloaded are Skype or FaceTime (24%), file sharing such as Box or Dropbox (29%), and chat tools such as Microsoft Messenger or Google Talk (24%).

“The findings show that as part of their increased mobility, employees are increasingly seeking tools for better collaboration and customer service – whether or not those tools are sanctioned by their employers," says Rob Dewar, vice president, Unisys ANZ.

“However, their behaviour is risky because an easily available app could contain malicious code and be used as a vehicle to steal data, spy or access a network.

"This behaviour can also lead to operational inefficiency and complicate end-user support if numerous employees are using too many different applications."

The survey also revealed the primary strategy taken by employers to manage BYO apps has been to ban them, with 20% of companies enforcing an IT policy prohibiting the downloading of third party applications.

A further 70% of firms say downloading unauthorised software is prohibited or even potential grounds for dismissal.

“The key for security-sensitive organisations is to deliver a compelling app suite to their employees via controlled methods, such as a dedicated app store, so that users don’t need to come up with workaround methods to access applications they feel are necessary to do their jobs productively," Dewar says.

"Those organisations would do well to consult with their most innovative, productive mobile workers to determine what type of apps they require and then select or build them based on functionality and security.

"Of course, that approach needs to be combined with clear policies on application use and an education program around the security implications of third-party apps."

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