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I may meander but I'm 'exploring', not lost

May 31, 2013

Portable ICT & BYOD security


[Cynicism: high]

We have just delivered June's NoticeBored security awareness module to subscribers, covering portable ICT, BYOD (Bake|Bury|Bash|Bring Your Own Device|Disaster|Dog), mobile and home working, and various associated matters.

One of those 'associated matters' concerns the social changes that are going on around us, thanks in large measure to the freedom that comes from workers no longer being leashed to the office like so many dogs.  I've been pondering this issue for quite a while now, sitting here in my modest home office looking out over the beautiful New Zealand countryside.   When I think back to the days when I commuted to the city every day to sit in a series of dreary offices and stuffy meeting rooms, looking forward to a chance to escape to a nearby cafe or go for a lunchtime walk in the local park, I wonder how I put up with it - those seemingly endless wasted hours of traffic jams and pointless committees and (in some cases) ignorant, pig-headed bosses trying to tell me how to do the job that I had trained and self-trained for decades to do.  

I'm fascinated by the pre-industrial-age days of skilled craftsmen and tradesmen and women, selling their knowledge and capabilities by the hour, day or job to a number of customers without the need for "employment" as we understand the term today.   In the realm of the "knowledge worker", thanks to portable ICT and networking, there are so many more opportunities for creative collaboration that the whole employer-employee thing seems terribly dated and ridiculously constrained to me.  

Looking back over the past decade or so, I've done some fantastic work and achieved great things with people I've never met in person, and am unlikely ever to meet in the future.  For differing periods and over great physical and cultural distances, we've made productive connections, done stuff, and moved on, with no hint of the anger or resentment that so often accompanies resignation and redundancy.  Instead of petty office politics and power plays, there's mutual respect and admiration, sharing the joy instead of jealously guarding our respective turfs.

The BYOD situation exemplifies the mess we've got ourselves into.  The corporation expects employees who have the temerity to suggest that they might be more productive using modern, up-to-date ICT gizmos instead of those old clunkers in the office that the accountants say have another year to go before being written off, to permit some faceless PC technician to poke around inside their personal property using fully privileged remote management facilities, with no security controls to speak of?  You're having a laugh!  

As far as I'm concerned, nosy, incompetent and malicious MDM admins are every bit as much of a threat to employees' privacy and other personal interests as those naughty haxxors and VXers who might sneak inside a BYOD tablet.  But no, the corporate power balance gives management the big stick.  "Give away your rights by signing this BYOD policy and hand over your admin password, or it's the IBM PS/2 in the corner for you my lad."  What kind of a 'social contract' is that?

There's far more to mobile working than bashing out a company memo on a beige laptop or playing cellphone tag with some other poor sod, en route to the next excruciatingly pointless and demoralizing encounter.

[/Cynicism]

Regards,