A group of Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) channel partners recently commissioned a study on usage and practices by employees and employers of mobile devices in the workplace. In other words, what’s up with BYOD?

The resulting report, titled, “BYOD Insights 2013: A Cisco Partner Network Study” details a brave new world in which employers no longer supply smartphones to workers but instead, employees bring their own mobile devices to work while companies scramble to set policies and procedures for application and data access while maintaining high levels of security. In a phrase, it’s not easy out there.

The Cisco partners directing the study, led by AdCap Network Systems, a Cisco Gold-level partner based in Atlanta, compiled survey responses from 1,000 workers in the United States gleaned from a randomized, online sampling. About 53 million Americans employed full-time own a smartphone. The margin for error of the study is 3 percent.

Here are some of the study’s top-level findings:

  • 62 percent of U.S. employees who use their own smartphone for work do so everyday
  • 92 percent of U.S. employees who use their smartphones for work did so this week
  • Only 10 percent of workers get some kind of work stipend for their smartphone
  • 39 percent of workers who use personal smartphones for work don’t password-protect
  • 52 percent access unsecured WiFi networks 
  • 69 percent of BYODers are expected to access work emails after hours

More…

  • Of workers at firms of between one and 25 employees, 66 percent say they’re expected to read emails after working hours. That’s compared with 53 percent of workers at firms of over 500 employees.
  • Whether you use your smartphone varies depending on your job. Teachers are most likely to use their smartphones for work.

What’s worrisome about the data findings? 

  • With so many smartphone owners are using their devices for work, why haven’t two out five users applied the most basic security protocols?
  • The fact that 52 percent of respondents accessing unsecured WiFi networks with their devices makes closing that vulnerability a priority. For example, last year a popular Mozilla Firefox plug-in was identified that allowed users to exploit devices that were connected to unsecured WiFi networks.
  • 54 percent of Android users lock their devices with a password, while 66 percent of iOS users have password protection. Does that mean Android users are less sophisticated and, if using their devices for work, require more education on usage and security? Maybe so.

And, in concluding…

  • With more people using smartphones in the workplace, companies will have to be more vigilant in setting mobile device management policies and BYOD guidelines, with the expectation that there will be BYOD breakdowns and associated costs incurred. Companies that know their employees’ smartphone habits will be better prepared to minimize the impact of the widening BYOD landscape.