Whether you give your blessing or not, most of your employees probably bring their own devices to work already. The benefits of a BYOD policy are tempting--employees are more productive using their own technology, and it saves you money. But the security issues are many (don’t even get your IT guy started).
Fortunately, technology is starting to catch up to solve the problem. Consider the "dual-persona" phone. You get a secure portal for work and a separate one for your personal life. Once you login, you can access your work email, check your schedule, and look up a customer contact with an app like Salesforce. Your IT folks can even require a strong password or do a remote wipe if, say, you lost the device or it was stolen. You can also switch over to a personal interface to which your IT department doesn't have access.
Here's a rundown of three services, each with a slightly different approach.
Available for both the BlackBerry Q10 and Z10 smartphones, Balance--which requires BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10--offers one scheduling and messaging app where work and personal data can intermingle. Balance automatically keeps them separate. (For example, you can’t copy text between work and personal messages.) For apps, you drag down on the app screen and select Work to access the workspace. Your IT staff can determine which apps are loaded in the work view and require a strong password--there are about 35 potential enforceable policies. The work-personal balance works the other way, as well: If IT is logging browser activity through BES10, they can’t see any personal browsing.
Balance does not work with Microsoft Exchange and Outlook. For now, Balance only works on the Q10 and Z10. But, the company might provide a Balance feature for iPhone and Android in the future. You can run Android apps in a virtual mode, but they can’t be protected by Balance. The BlackBerry OS manages the boot-up process as well, preventing access to Balance if the phone is hacked. Also: It’s included for free.
The Divide app, available for free for both iPhone and Android, provides a secure workspace for work files. Unlike BlackBerry Balance, there’s a separate app for your work schedule and email. You can’t copy anything out of the Divide workspace, or even see any personal files when in "work" mode. There’s also a file manager, browser, and a time card app in the workspace. Admins can push specific work apps like Salesforce or Box to the secure area, require strong passwords, and enforce another 100 preset IT policies. Divide does not work with BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The app can check to see if your phone has been hacked and if so, block access to the workspace. The free app works only for email. For more features, you pay $60 per year per user.
KNOX is a powerful app that’s included on the Samsung Galaxy S4 running on the Android OS. (Third-party providers like AirWatch or Zenprise have to activate the service.) Like Divide, KNOX runs as a separate app with its own email, calendar, and browser for accessing work functions. You can’t copy and paste between KNOX and personal apps. IT can enforce about 450 policies like requiring a strong password and disabling Wi-Fi on the phone. One bonus: Unlike the Divide app, you can add a personal account like Gmail in the KNOX workspace. KNOX checks to see if your phone is hacked both at start-up and as you work, blocking access as needed. KNOX only works on the S4, but Samsung may add the service to older Android phones. The service itself is free, but a third party like AirWatch will charge for admin features.