A report released Thursday found companies that use software to keep tabs on employee BYOD devices have the potential to gather significantly more user data than previously believed.
The software may allow the company to see “where the phone is located, what apps are on the phone, and even what websites the user was accessing,” according to CSO Online.
The study was conducted by Bitglass, whose employees volunteered to participate in the test.
Most of the focus around BYOD has been on protecting the enterprise from employees that put the enterprise and its data at risk. But this may be one of the first studies to look at how employee privacy could be at risk from a nosy employer.
"The intent of these MDM solutions is not to spy on employees, but to monitor for things like malware and general security," said Salim Hafid, product manager at Bitglass.
However, Bitglass researchers using the MDM software were able to see much more than that.
"We were able to see virtually all the activity on the device," said Hafid. "We could see that some of our employees search for health information on the web."
Bitglass researchers were able to view personal email sent to employees through a number of apps. They were also able to see passwords to social media and bank accounts, according to the study.
BYOD holds several advantages for the enterprise. It’s convenient for employees, enables workplace flexibility, improves workflows and can save the enterprise the cost of buying mobile devices for the staff that need them. But not everyone is interested in having their employer track their device and its uses, especially because many employees use their mobile devices for personal activities such as banking.