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2/7/2012
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Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work

Survey finds that 62% of agencies encourage staffers to bring their own mobile devices to work to save the agencies money. Close to half of federal employees are doing just that.

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With cost-cutting measures limiting the number of mobile devices federal agencies distribute to employees, employees are being encouraged to bring their own devices to work, according to a new study.

Sixty-two percent of agencies have a "bring your own device" policy, allowing employees to use their own mobile devices at work, and 44% of federal employees are using their own in the workplace, according to a new report by technology provider CDW Government.

The report, based on a survey of 414 federal employees and IT staff, also found that the majority of employees--89%--think that using mobile devices at work makes them more productive, while 69% of respondents said this increased mobility will allow the feds to deliver better services to citizens.

[ For more on federal employees' mobile use habits, see 45% Of Federal IT Pros Do Mobile Work Daily. ]

Indeed, mobility is nearly ubiquitous among federal agencies and a key part of the federal IT agenda, with 99% of employees using some kind of mobile device to do their jobs, according to the survey.

A November 2011 executive order, however, asked agencies to limit the number of IT devices they issue to employees, including mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones, in order to cut costs.

Allowing agencies to bring their own devices to work saves money and allows agencies to support mobility initiatives, such as a standard that mobile strategy U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel is working on across federal agencies to accelerate the adoption of mobile technologies.

Having employees use their own devices at work does, however, raise security concerns, which agencies are trying to alleviate through a number of measures, including secure mobile device management (MDM), according to the survey.

MDM is over-the-air distribution of applications, data, and configuration settings for all types of mobile devices. Seventy-one percent of federal agencies already are using or have plans to use MDM as part of their security plans for mobile devices, according to the survey.

Specifically, 26% of agencies already have fully deployed MDM to protect mobile devices, 29% have partially deployed the technology, 16% have a plan to deploy it, and 18% are assessing the opportunity, said the survey.

Other security measures being used include mobile data security policies (85%), data-security training for mobile device users (84%), and encryption (82%).

Despite these measures, sensitive data being accessed and transferred via mobile devices might still be at risk, as fewer agencies are using the most secure measures--such as multi-factor authentication, remote lock and wipe, and data loss prevention software--to protect data, according to the survey.

Specifically, 54% of respondents said their agency is using multi-factor authentication, and 45% said remote lock and wipe is in use. Only 39% said their agencies are using software to prevent data loss.

InformationWeek's 2012 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 issue and on InformationWeek.com. Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for 2012 Government IT Innovators closes April 27.

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ed137
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ed137,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2012 | 12:09:58 PM
re: Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work
Not in DOD, we cannot even bring a cell phone into the office.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/10/2012 | 4:33:50 PM
re: Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work
It's ridiculous to have a BYOD policy when you don't have the security infrastructure and training in place to support it. Tail wagging Dog imho

People that work for the governent are just as lazy and careless with data security as those that work in the Corporate world. Before long, our government will be the biggest source of compromised personal information simply because they have access to more of it.
herman_munster
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herman_munster,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2012 | 8:39:17 PM
re: Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work
I'm a big fan of BYOD. I've been doing it for years mostly because I feel the tech my company provides me is sub-par.

The thing that concerns me? Does this mean that gov't employees who work with out private and personal data might find themselves in a situation where they're walking around with our info on their personal devices?

I know that sounds ridiculous but, the government isn't exactly a model of efficiency and isn't really known for thinking things through.
Sam Iam
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Sam Iam,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2012 | 6:07:47 PM
re: Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work
Everyone is going BYOD. I can't think of an organization that is not opening it up.... Security is really something that can be handled with third party software, Q1 Labs for instance. Not that large of a problem.
Bprince
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Bprince,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/9/2012 | 1:47:50 AM
re: Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work
I am willing to bet most businesses have taken the same stance as well. The thing that struck me as problematic is that only half of the agencies have fully or partially deployed MDM to protect devices.
Brian Prince, InformationWeek/Dark Reading Comment Moderator
Dongato
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Dongato,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2012 | 12:58:25 PM
re: Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work
I wonder how many viruses and malware will be transferred to Federal computers based on this policy. It only takes one infected flash drive to infect an entire network.

Seems like just a few weeks ago federal agencies were restricting the use of personal devices.

Seems like a stupid policy.
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