In our office we saw two new BYOD devices (Bring Your Own Device) show up after the holiday gift giving season. Not a lot until you work it out on a percentage basis and that is over 13% increase beyond the multiple of smartphones and tablets already being used. Over 50% of our employee group has some sort of device connected to our wireless for at least part of the work day.
So what does this have to do with Netflix and It network bandwidth?
In our office we know who has credentials for wireless devices connecting to our network. In most offices this should be the case but as the organization grows or the users become more diverse it is tougher to keep control of who is logging onto your IT network using your wireless connection.
Much of the activity the BYOD trend brings to the office is legitimate office work and these devices can certainly help increase productivity. They do however, also get used for personal use.
How about watching a movie on the lunch hour? Netflix is ideal for keeping up on the next episode of the TV show you are watching. Not a problem on someone's own device on their lunch hour until the collective impact of several people starts to slow your network or your internet download capability.
There are lots of ways that this trend to BYOD and smart devices can have negative impacts on an IT network and it is important that they be considered in your policies and designs. In most cases the negative impacts are not intentional and on a singular basis will not be highly detrimental. Collectively they can start to lead to problems and challenges.
Potential for illegal use?
One of the key considerations to look at is whether users connected to your network are using file sharing (essentially illegal access) sites to get to TV shows, movies etc. If they are doing this using a device connected to your domain and having an IP address associated with your company you could be held liable for the illegal usage of copyrighted materials.
The chances of this occuring are low however there has been recent activity in this part of Ontario where a local ISP located in Chatham has been requested to supply the information about some of its clients to facilitate a court case potentially to be launched by a movie production and distribution house from California. The merits of the case are not clear but if you got drawn into this kind of situation because an employee or guest connected to your network it could be costly to defend your actions.
Set a usage policy
Many public wireless connection points require users to acknowledge a usage policy before permitting the connection to their networks. This usage policy will cover items like use of copyrighted material and other potentially illegal actions. If you have concerns about how your wireless connection might be used, then requiring a usage policy acknowledgement may be advisable even for your employees.
The trend to BYOD is not going to end. As capabilities and options increase (and prices drop) the usage of smart devices on company networks is going to grow. It is hard to deny access especially when the device is being used partially for work related activity. Ensuring that users who connect to your IT system understand the implications of their use is important protection.
Do you have an open or closed wireless access for your network? Have you written the usage policy for your users? Are you at risk?
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