BYOA Risks and Tips

There are a lot of acronyms when it comes to the consumerisation of IT: BYOD, BYOPC, MDM and MAM. The most recent acronym to take centre stage in the discussion of whether or not to allow employees to work at work like they play at home is BYOA — Bring Your Own Application. The idea behind BYOA is to let employees choose the business productivity software they want instead of having to consume a standard, company-mandated set of applications so they perform their roles more effectively. But just as with traditional BYOD, there are risks to consider with BYOA before you allow the practice into your organisation.

1. Unsecure apps, malware and data loss

The biggest threat BYOA poses to the enterprise as the IT department sees it is that, left unchecked, employees can use apps that put company data and networks at risk. Downloading software from public app stores onto corporate networks increases the risk of malware infections and potentially compromises corporate data. Let’s not forget that BYOA can also include consumption of cloud services, which presents additional data breach risks that can be harder to mitigate, particularly because IT can’t “wipe” a cloud environment that’s been compromised like it can a mobile device.

2. App sprawl

What happens when you start letting a majority of employees download a range of apps to their mobile device? You end up with too many apps to manage, from security, licensing and provisioning perspectives. Without a process for vetting, procuring and deploying apps during BYOA, your help desk will be faced with supporting a well of applications. It’s likely many apps will also get downloaded, but not used, leading to wasted software purchasing and license fees.

Effectively managing BYOA

Just like BYOD, organisations that strike the balance between giving end-users more control over how they do their jobs and ensuring enterprise security and manageability can win at BYOA. There are two main ways businesses can permit BYOA in a less risky, more streamlined way: app stores and mobile application management (MAM).

 1. BYO app store

Gartner has predicted a quarter of all enterprises will have their own in-house app stores by 2018. This scenario, similar to an Apple app store, still gives end-users choice of a range of business productivity apps. While they will be less numerous than in traditional app stores, they are vetted for security and usability. App stores also provide enterprise-grade apps, designed for business use and functionality unlike consumer apps, and provisions them in alignment with IT policy (certain individuals or business units will only have access to certain apps, for instance). According to a recent Gartner report, enterprise app stores “can increase the value delivered by the application portfolio and reduce the associated risks, license fees and administration expenses.”

2. Mobile application management

Some industry thought leaders believe app stores and MAM are one in the same. For our purposes, we will consider MAM as a solution that protects and manages apps instead of the device. The two main ways MAM currently works are through software developer kits (SDKs) and app wrapping. SDKs allow certain security features to be coded into apps as they are being developed while app wrapping involves adding extra security coding around the app after it’s been created. MAM solutions also help IT manage and provision mobile apps, whether they are public ones downloaded from public app stores or custom-made ones.

Before you incorporate BYOA into your organisation, weigh your options, whether MAM or an app store or both, and engage a provider experienced at delivering end-to-end mobility solutions to ensure a secure, business-aligned deployment.

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