Feds To Employees: Use Your Own Devices At Work

Survey finds that 62% of agencies encourage staffers to bring
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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.

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