Archives for BYOD

BYOD on the Decline?

BYOD costFor the last few years people have been pumping up Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs as the best solution for employees and businesses alike. However, those same people weren’t always quick to acknowledge the well-documented issues often surrounding it.

It appears the tide may be turning. The results of a 2015 CompTIA Information Technology Association survey of American IT professionals show over half work at companies that have banned BYOD.

In total, 53 percent of the 375 respondents said their company does not allow the use of personal devices in the workplace, a significant increase from 34 percent just two years before. Contrast that with the just seven percent whose companies allow full BYOD. Forty percent reported working in a partial-BYOD environment, where some devices were provided by the employer but personal devices were still permitted on the network. That’s a significant drop from the 2013 survey, when 58 percent identified their workplace as partially BYOD.

“Companies are finding that they can pursue mobility initiatives just as well by providing mobile devices, and employees are often happy enough to take a corporate device if it is the same thing they would choose on their own,” states the CompTIA report.

“A small percentage of companies—mostly small firms—elect to completely avoid device distribution. This can reduce the overhead required for device support, but it also raises issues for security and productivity. Many firms are clearly choosing to solve those issues by avoiding BYOD.”

But a ban on personal devices doesn’t solve all problems, the report warns. Strong-willed employees determined to use their own devices will try to find ways to do so, making it important for companies to ensure they are monitoring for any unauthorized usage.

Though CompTIA’s survey shows a shift, another undertaken this year by Tyntec – a European company that offers BYOD program support – shows it continues to rise. Their poll of over 1,300 workers found just over 60 percent reported using their own device for work. But what is really startling is the majority of all respondents whose companies are full BYOD said there is no formal mobile-use policy in place: 66 percent of workplaces in America don’t have one, 75 percent in Spain go without and a whopping 82 percent in the United Kingdom have yet to draft and implement a policy.

If we had to wager a bet, we’d say many of those companies aren’t doing anything to manage their employees’ personal devices at all, a risky move when it comes to corporate security. And those that are have discovered it’s not as cheap as they may initially think. An Aberdeen study from 2012 still holds true: savings between a corporate-liable and BYOD device is often mitigated by the cost to process expense reports and offer multi-device support. In fact, it costs six times more to manage than if companies just purchased and handed out phones.

One trend that continues – and perhaps has the most staying power – is the COPE method (corporate-owned, personally enabled) or the Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) phenomenon, where employers are pre-selecting a variety of devices under a corporate liability model and allowing their workers final say on which one they’d like to use.

Sometimes the happy medium is the best one of all.

BYOD, at what cost?

Schooley Mitchell has seen the negative effects of a poorly planned and executed Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scenarios first hand, but this column by Brian Katz illustrates the financial hit that companies take when they rush into a new device arrangement without examining both sides of the coin.

Katz says a big disadvantage some companies fail to consider is the loss of the ability to pool data and minutes through a share plan, often leaving them on the hook to reimburse employees for overages they would not face under corporate liability. Discounts on other high-cost activities, such as international data roaming, may also not be as favorable in a BYOD environment.

Get his take on the issue here.

BlackBerry Enterprise Service to support BYOD environment

Research in Motion is clamoring to get back its slice of the corporate market, announcing today that its enterprise service will now support iOS and Android devices. The move will allow former BlackBerry workplaces to embrace a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment.

Enterprise Service 10 – which offers mobile device and application management, secure connectivity and the ability to separate work and personal data and apps – is now available for download on a 60-day free trial. Details about its long-term pricing structure have not been released.

“BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 empowers employees to be more productive and better equipped to serve customers while it provides business and IT leaders with the confidence that corporate data is protected and manageable in the same way they have long enjoyed with BlackBerry,” said Peter Devenyi, senior vice president of enterprise software, in a press release. “BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 makes mobility easy for businesses to help keep them moving.”

Whether BES 10 will be enough to restore Blackberry’s former corporate stranglehold, or if the platform is too little too late, remains unknown. Atlanta-based start-up AirWatch has been garnering plenty of media attention as of late, being pointed to as the company poised to take down RIM in the mobile device management market.

Learn more about BES 10 in the video below.

BYOD heads to court

Two of the most risky factors to consider in a Bring Your Own Device environment are privacy and ownership. The employee owns the mobile device and the contents within – after all, they purchased the phone and their name is on the carrier contract. This has been a major area of concern for many businesses since the start of the BYOD trend.

What happens to a phone and its contents if an employee is terminated or quits? The phone number goes with them, which is an obvious issue: Just one missed call from a client could cost the company a significant sum, probably much more than its monthly BYOD savings.

But it’s not just the number that exits with an employee. Unless a company has taken steps to install software that allows it to wipe the device, the former employee may walk away with a mobile filled with company documents, emails, sensitive information and trade secrets.

Who would have the legal upper hand in such a situation? A recent US District Court case in California (Mintz v. Mark Bartelstein & Associates, Inc.) has shed some light on the matter. The plaintiff left his job at sports and entertainment talent agency for a position with a competitor. His former employer alleged he stole clients and trade secrets upon his exit. He shot back with a claim his email had been illegally accessed. The former employer subpoenaed AT&T, hoping to gain access to text messages and calls, including times, dates, call length and numbers the text messages were sent between.

The court’s ruling fell somewhere in the middle. It found the Stored Communications Act prohibited AT&T from handing over the text message information that was subpoenaed. When it came to the phone calls, the court found the employee did have a limited expectation of privacy. Since the company paid for a portion of the device and circulated a policy stating it had the right to review communications – though the employee denied having ever received or read it – AT&T was ordered to hand over the call information in the end.

In his analysis of the ruling, Silicon Valley lawyer Stephen Wu pointed out a few important lessons businesses can learn from the court’s decision. Wu said companies wanting control over devices should provide the phone number, pay for the entire cost of the device, and have a signed agreement in place with the employee. There should be no personal use of the phone.

“… Companies with BYOD policies will have to accept that employees will have a greater expectation of privacy than a non-BYOD workplace,” Wu wrote. “The phone account may predate employment and may be in the employee’s name. The employer will know that personal calls, texts, and emails will be made using the device. And if the employer does not pay all of the cost of the device, the employee will have a greater expectation of privacy. These factors may be unavoidable with a BYOD policy.”

Google blames Asia for outage

Google has blamed Asia for its hour-long outage on Thursday.  Lest our friends in the East let out a howl of protest over what could be perceived as a racial slur, Google offers a plausible explanation. 

A system error in Google rerouted its traffic to Asia, causing a traffic jam that left scores of users around the world mighty annoyed. Tons of emails were left unsent and all other Google products—Google News, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Analytics, Google Reader, and YouTube—were inacessible.

Some users reported that they could not even access the home page. The outage, which started around 7:48 am Pacific time, cleared up a little over an hour later.

The most recent Google blackout caused an uproar in the blogosphere and Twitter users ranted about the issue, calling it “#googlefail.” The search giant was quick to douse the fire, however, saying in a statement that it was investigating the problem and that it should be resolved in no time.

After an hour, Google issued another statement saying that the outage has already cleared up. Google used the analogy of flying from New York to San Francisco, but the plane was instead routed to an airport in Asia which is not fully equipped to handle the massive traffic influx; hence, the flight was delayed.

Google wrote on its website:

“An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We’ve been working hard to make our services ultrafast and “always on,” so it’s especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We’re very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we’ll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won’t happen again…”

The problem did not only cause a glitch in Google’s services; it also slowed down other sites, some taking several minutes to load. Some users remarked that a Google blackout may not entirely kill the Internet, but it can considerably slow it down.

Google had been down many times in the past, leading users to complain that Google is becoming outage-prone. Gmail alone reportedly experienced at least six outages since June 2008. 

Google should be extra careful about similar incidents happening in the future as these could seriously affect users’ perception of its products. As Dan Olds, an analyst with the Gabriel Consulting Group, tells TechWorld: “Outages like this are highly publicized today, users are vocal and the news spreads like wildfire… It will have an impact on Google, as it makes their services look less than reliable. “

Olds observes that while such problems only last several hours at the most, complaints from users from the four corners of cyberspace could greatly undermine Google’s credibility by making the issue bigger than it really is.  Outages like the most recent one could make users think they can’t solely depend on Google applications for all their online needs.

Clearwire, Apple Face Lawsuits

Disgruntled consumers have slapped WiMAX operator Clearwire with a class action lawsuit for allegedly touting that its service is comparable to cable Internet and DSL when it fact it’s crappy.

Documented as “Minnick et al. v. Clearwire U.S. LLC” and filed in King County, Washington, the lawsuit claims Clearwire’s service is slow and often unavailable. It also accuses the company of imposing unlawful early termination fees.

In another development, Apple is likewise facing a lawsuit, this time from an operator of a public wiki site, for allegedly hiding under the cloak of the U.S. copyright law to impede discussions of its iTunes software.

Filed Monday, the lawsuit is set to put the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to the test. The DMCA promotes open-source in a bid to encourage iPods and iPhones to have other software aside from Apple’s iTunes.

False advertising

Clearwire has openly advertised that its mobile WiMAx network is a good substitute for DSL or cable Internet connection or the conventional wireline phones. The plaintiffs, however, alleged that Clearwire’s phone service in particular is prone to service disruptions or unavailability, making it even more substandard than conventional landline service.

The plaintiffs are demanding recovery of the early termination fees they had paid to Clearwire, as well as seeking an injunction prohibiting the company from imposing such fees and making false claims about its services.

The plaintiffs—customers from Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota and North Carolina—complained that service outages range from slow, dial-up quality Internet connection to total service disruption.  The plaintiffs are represented by firms Tycko & Zavareei LLP of Washington, DC and Peterson Young Putra.

Complaints about Clearwire’s substandard service have sprouted in online forums and websites. Some of these were rants about Clearwire’s undependable service, while others were criticisms leveled against the company’s so-called inferior equipment, inaccurate billing and poor customer service.

Founded in October 2003 by Craig McCaw, a cellular phone developer, Clearwire now operates wireless using WiMAX, a telecommunications technology that makes possible the wireless transmission of data by means of various transmission modes–from point-to-multipoint links to portable and fully mobile Internet access.

Clearwire has announced plans to spend at least $1.5 billion dollars to expand its WiMAX network subscriber base to up to 120 million users in 80 markets by 2010.

Clearwire’s launched its mobile WiMAX service in Portland, Oregon early this year following Sprint’s introduction of its first WiMAX service in Baltimore, Maryland in 2008. The two companies are gearing to launch the service nationwide.

Aside from the US, Clearwire also serves markets in Denmark, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, and Mexico, some of which are through affiliate companies.

Like Vonage, Clearwire has advertised its services in various ways such as through airline tickets and implementing low opening rates to lure more users. New consumers are signed into contractual agreements.

OdioWorks counters Apple’s threats

An operator of an online technology discussion forum has filed a lawsuit to defend its move to publish information and to shield itself from further attacks from Apple’s legal team.

Late last year, Apple’s lawyers threatened OdioWorks with a lawsuit if it did not remove the iTunesDB pages from its site, Apple claimed the move was clearly in violation of the provisions of DMCA on anti-circumvention.

Like most wiki platforms, BluWiki openly shares information to the public. The non-commercial site relies on users to edit and public information on a variety of topics. It incurred the ire of Apple when it published tips on how to use an iPod or iPhone with third-party software, which is restricted on Apple’s products.

OdioWorks maintains that Apple’s monopoly violates the First Amendment rights of its users.

“Companies like Apple should not be able to censor online discussions by making baseless legal threats against services like BluWiki that host the discussion,” OdioWorks owner Sam Odio said in a statement.

OdioWorks adds that engaging in reverse technology engineering to create a better product is legal, and that it’s perfectly legitimate for a public wiki to publish discussions about this topic.

Nokia, Sony Ericsson Reel from Economic Slowdown

Handset makers are reeling from the blow of economic slowdown. Both Nokia and Sony report losses  during the first quarter but remain optimistic that the worst will soon be over.

The world’s largest cell phone maker, Nokia, reports a 90 percent drop in profits for the first quarter, while Sony Ericsson says it lost $387 in revenues from January to March this year.

“As expected, the first quarter of this year has been extremely challenging for Sony Ericsson due to continued weak global demand. We are aligning our business to the new market reality with the aim of bringing the company back to profitability as quickly as possible.” says Sony Ericsson Dick Komiyama.

Industry watchers have warned cell phone manufacturers of a decline in the mobile market for 2009 as users were unlikely to upgrade their existing handsets during the down economy.

Cell phone companies report about $161 million in profits for the first quarter, down from last year’s $1.6 billion for the same period.

Nokia sold 93.2 million mobile phones during the first quarter, a 19 percent year-over-year decline.
Sony is even faring worse than Nokia. The company will soon resort to retrenchment to save about $522 million in costs.

Sony has posted a 35 percent decline in cell phones shipped for the first quarter compared to the same period last year. Only 14.5 million handsets were shipped from January to March this year.

Unlike Nokia, Samsung and Motorola which offer entry-level handsets that are a big hit in Asia, Sony Ericsson mainly relies on sales of its high-end phones.

Sony foresees that the mobile market will shrink by 10 percent this year, a prediction that was also echoed by other mobile makers.

Despite the current bleak picture, both Nokia and Sony, however, say market stability is in the horizon.

“The market is no longer falling in an uncontrolled manner. I am encouraged by the sign of stabilization seen at the end of the first quarter,” Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told Information Week.

Nokia, however, remains the underdog in the smartphone market as Apple’s iPhone, RIMM’s Blackberry, and HTC smartphones continue to hold users spellbound.

Hopefully, the second quarter will see Nokia gaining ground in the smartphone race with its N97 expected to be a major hit globally. Already, the entry-level 5800 XpressMusic smartphone scored 2.6 million units in sales in the first quarter.

Nokia controls 37 percent of the overall mobile market pie, but it still needs to make significant penetration into the U.S. market which is largely dominated by local carriers.

Nokia, however, is set to be a key player in the U.S. mobile landscape by making more CDMA phones. Its E71 smartphone is now being marketed by telecommunications giant AT&T.

Nokia’s revenues are also expected to get a boost with the launch of its over-the-air application store, Ovi. It will be a find, buy, download, and install apps platform for Series 40 and Series 60 users, utilizing social networking and location-based information.

Like Nokia, Sonny is also gearing up to get a fair share of the smartphone market with the upcoming launch of its multiple mobile movie and music services as well as the Idou smartphone.

Al Gore Underscores Wireless Role in Fight VS. Global Warming

Former US vice president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore lauded the initiatives of the wireless industry to help reduce the adverse effects of global warming, but said the industry still needs to strengthen initiatives and pursue higher goals for the environment than just mere profits.

The environmental activist was the final keynote speaker during the annual CTIA Wireless held last week.  According to the CTIA website, the four-day event gathered some 34,000 key players of the wireless industry from 169 countries to launch and explore innovations in the field.

Gore said much of the future will depend on how the environmental problems are dealt with at present. As the world grapples with the seemingly insurmountable issue of global warming, Gore said the wireless technology will play a major role in solving the problem.

“Wireless is going to be one of the key tools we use to solve the climate crisis,” said Gore. “The wireless communications industry is at the heart of the transition we need to make.”

Gore said to address the climate problem, it is important for individuals to have ready access to useful information “so that they don’t have to go to centralized locations and go through a lot of rigmarole… when they can get (information) even as they’re mobile and going about their daily lives.”

Gore recognized the initiatives of the wireless industry to promote the environmental thrust in terms of advocacy and education campaigns. Today, many companies have become environmentally conscious, getting rid of carbon emissions and trimming down wastes. We now have phones made from recycled materials, like Samsung’s Blue Earth and Motorola’s Renew. Samsung’s Blue Earth has add-in solar cells in the gadget, Nokia reclaims old phone parts, while LG Electronics puts up sun-powered phone charging outlets.

Telecommunication companies have also started to reduce power usage in their operations, which reduces carbon footprint. There are those that have built cell sites powered by alternative sources of energy such as wind, geothermal, biodiesel, and solar to get rid of environmentally ravaging batteries and diesels.

Gore said the most important contribution that the wireless industry will make in the anti-global warming bandwagon is to create linkages among green technologies, initiatives, and industries worldwide.

In the field of telemedicine, Gore said patients don’t have to travel long distances to meet doctors as sharing of valuable information can now be done wirelessly without producing tons of paper records.

Eventually, there will be no need for massive centralized power plants as new electric grids fed by renewable energy from alternative sources will be established in localities. The wireless technology will be the key element to connect and manage these grids.

Gore said the wireless industry is “one of the great success stories in the American economy” and that progress in this field will continue to revolutionize the communication processes.

One of the most eye-popping products rolled out during the recent CTIA is Samsung’s first WiMax-enabled Mobile Internet Device (MID) called Mondi.  The pocket-size device runs the Opera 9.5 Web browser and has a 4.3-inch touch screen.

Executives were thrilled by the much-awaited RIM’s Blackberry App Store, which makes it easier for Blackberry users to customize their phones by directly downloading third-party application from an online catalog.

Anti-Wireless Spam Bill Introduced at Senate

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) have joined forces to solve the worsening problem of wireless spam. The two have introduced a bill to solve the growing number of unsolicited text messages which have caused headaches to millions of cell phone users.

Dubbed the m-SPAM Act, the legislation improves existing anti-spam laws and boosts the powers granted to the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to crack down on unwanted SMS.

Most importantly, the legislation gives consumers protection by making it such a no-no to send commercial text messages to wireless numbers listed on the Do-Not-Call registry.

“Mobile spam invades both a consumer’s cell phone and monthly bill,” Snowe said in a statement. “There is also increasing concern that mobile spam will become more than just an annoyance–the viruses and malicious spyware that are often attached to traditional spam will most likely be more prevalent on wireless devices through m-spam. This significant and looming threat must be addressed in order to protect consumers and vital wireless services.”

Based on the data gathered by Ferris Research, an all-time high of 1.1 billion spam text messages were received by consumers in 2007. The CTIA data, however, said this figure is still a much conservative estimate and that in fact, 28.8 billion unwanted text messages—dubbed in 2000 as “spasms”—were reported within the month of June 2007 alone.

The m-SPAM Act is a welcome development considering that in the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, the rules enforced by FCC only banned the sending of email spam to cell phones. It turned out that  wireless spam is equally headache-inducing for users as it has been used for phishing attacks wherein unscrupulous individuals try to trick wireless users into disclosing personal information over the phone.

Aside from such dangers, another reason why mobile spam is especially irritating to users is because it clutters their inbox and they have to shoulder the per text message cost, which is sometimes at 20 cents.

“Spam e-mail is bad enough,” said Nelson. “Now, we are seeing a proliferation of unwanted text messages – and consumers are getting stuck paying.”

According to Secure Computing Magazine Australia, mobile hackers are taking advantage of inadequate mobile spam and fraud protection offered by mobile networks.

Messaging security vendor Cloudmark claimed that advancements in mobile technology such as the introduction of unlimited messaging plans, as well as the increase in open networks and mobile applications have made wireless spamming an attractive and lucrative option for spammers.

It has been found out that one of the biggest triggers of mobile spam is via number harvesting by websites offering free ringtone downloads. Users are made to provide their phone numbers before they can download the ringtone. The numbers gathered are used to send mass advertising messages to users. Once the spam starts pouring in, users are usually left with no other option but to change their cell phone numbers.

Another anti-spam strategy, albeit a very extreme and unpopular one among SMS buffs, is the option offered by phone providers to completely disable text messaging functions on a user’s account.  So far, this option has been useful only to individuals who have had no need for the SMS function.

Recession Driving Back Consumers to Dial-Up

Broadband may have taken internet access to the next level, but during a recession, many consumers are finding it hard to justify the need to pay more money for faster Internet speed.

According to Ethan Horowitz of the Chicago, the down economy is making people ditch cable Internet and go back to slow but inexpensive dial-up connection.

While no exact figures are available yet, Horowitz said signs point to dial-up as becoming the preferred choice (again) for cost-conscious consumers.

United Online, which owns dial-up providers NetZero and Juno, for instance, reported that in the fourth quarter of 2008, an all-time low of 4.3 percent of customers dropped their services.

To take advantage of people’s need to generate savings now more than ever, United Online has become more aggressive in its marketing, launching a campaign that highlights user savings of $300 a year by switching to NetZero’s $9.95 a month dial-up service.

“It’s the e-mailing group and people doing casual surfing around the Internet,” Chief Executive Mark Goldston said. “I am not suggesting that dial-up is better than broadband, but when it really comes down to it, the real question is: ‘How powerful is your need to save money?’ “

The interest in dial-up is the highest it has been since its glory days a decade ago, said Goldston, adding that it’s like going back to generic brands or using regular gas in a car that calls for premium.

Horowitz said shifting back from high-speed Internet to dial-up is like giving up a Maserati in favor of a horse and buggy. For some people, however, especially those who can access high-speed Internet at work, the hundreds of dollars they could save makes the prospect of a shift an attractive option.

FCC defines broadband as having speed of at least 768 kilobits per second. Dial-up Internet, on the other hand, has speeds at 56 Kbps, although observers say the more realistic figure is only 48 Kbps.

Another edge that broadband has over dial-up Internet is that it is always on. The connection is established when the computer is powered on and will remain so until the user disconnects it or the Internet Service Provider experiences technical problems. Dial-up access, on the other hand, requires users to initiate the dial-up connection themselves and then wait for several seconds before the connection is made.

If it weren’t for the price factor and the unavailability of broadband Internet in some areas, broadband would completely obliterate dial-up access. Broadband costs $20 to $55 per month or even higher.

The 2008 broadband statistics of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that once the undisputed leader in technological advancements, U.S. now lags behind many countries in broadband infrastructure.

The United States only registered a 3.13 percent penetration growth per 100 inhabitants from 2007 to 2008. The US is well behind 11 countries such as Luxembourg (6.05), Germany (5.03), Greece (4.13), Ireland (4.12), Hungary (4.10), New Zealand (4.05), France (4.03), United Kingdom (3.88), Czech Republic (3.63), Sweden (3.41), and Canada (3.21).

The U.S. also falls behind other countries in the deployment of latest broadband technologies. In Japan, for example, 35 percent of its Internet connections make use of fiber optic, while only 3 percent of Internet connections in the U.S. are fiber optic.

Average broadband download speeds in Japan are said to be at 61-megabits per second, while it’s only 1.9-megabits in the U.S. Downloading a 4.5 GB movie file in Japan takes only 1.25 minutes, while users in the U.S. have to wait for 15 minutes.

Industry experts say being able to zoom along the information superhighway is only a matter of making broadband a national policy. It is hoped that the Obama administration’s current thrust of putting a premium on the broadband stimulus package which will pour $7.2 billion funding to improve the country’s broadband infrastructure and make it readily available to more Americans will address the problem.