We're starting to hear more about BYOD -- that's bring your own device to work:“Some believe that BYOD may help employees be more productive. Others say it increases employee morale and convenience by using their own devices and makes the company look like a flexible and attractive employer.”
Having been around long enough to recall the days when employers routinely provided phones and pagers, I understand the benefits of BYOD. However, I can also see some serious issues. What if your smartphone, tablet or laptop is lost or stolen? I do not expect to see your employer offer replace your devices, and since you rely on them for work, you are going to be solely responsible for the loss. Who provides tech support? And what about the data on these devices? Who does that belong to?
Of course, things do happen. One of my sons managed to drop
an iPod on an airplane. It slid around the floor of the cabin, someone picked
it up and pocketed it, and we never saw it again. Apple was certainly no help.
We had the serial number, and you'd think Apple could monitor that were the
thief to, say, connect to an iTunes account. But that's not something they do.
Some people do manage on their own to recover stolen devices. This guy used open source software to locate his stolen laptop and phone. According to this article, you might also have some luck if gmail or Dropbox is still running and updating the IP address information.
However, a savvy thief will simply wipe a pilfered device and remove the tracking software.
Other solutions are works in progress. This article notes that some law enforcement officials support the creation of "kill switches" that would render smartphones inoperable after they are stolen:
home their point about the danger of violent smartphone thefts, authorities
introduced relatives of 23-year-old Megan Boken, who was shot and killed in St.
Louis in 2012 by an assailant who was trying to steal her iPhone.”
Others advocate for the creation of a database of stolen devices. This "blacklist" would allow mobile providers to refuse service on devices that are reported stolen. However, critics point out that thieves could get around this by altering the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.As technologists, you'd think we would be able to develop an elegant solution to these problems, but so far that seems to have eluded us. As much as I love my technology, I'd prefer not to put a target on my back when I use my smartphone.