Microsoft claims it has a solution to some of the most common bring your own device (BYOD) concerns: A way to spy on enterprise workers. Through its Lync app, it's giving enterprises a way to monitor what devices workers are using to communicate.

Lync Reporting

According to Yanzhao Zhang, a program manager on the Lync team, the new reporting solution will enable IT users see what kinds of devices were used to take part in peer-to-peer communications or conferences in the past month. It also offers them as a report through a RESTFul WebService API or as graphical report in Office 365 admin center for client devices.

The report covers users on Windows PC devices, Windows phones, Android devices and iPhones and iPad, making it a pretty comprehensive monitoring tool.

The app tracks the number of unique users that signed into Lync with a Windows phone, Android device or iPhone to participate in at least one peer-to-peer conference during the reporting period using Windows enabled PC devices through Lync Windows’s desktop client or the Lync Web App client on Windows. 

The IT department can also check monthly device usage trends with pre-defined line chart reports dating back to this past July and query the report data at any point up through the present.

2014-10-21 lync byod monitoring.jpg

Device Security

Given the investment Microsoft has made in Windows phones and the fact that BYOD, despite its popularity among workers, is still a thorny issue for enterprise IT departments, the introduction of the new Lync reporting tool is quite timely.

Anecdotal evidence on the way data is stored by enterprise workers indicates that a large number of them are storing or accessing their work data on their personal mobile devices, which many people are only securing with simple passwords.

Recent research from BitDefender shows that mobile malware is on the rise, especially on Android devices. But most mobile apps still don't have basic security protocols in place. This is before you even start looking at the Internet of Things and the inevitable rise of wearable technology and all the security implications of that.

In fact, while many enterprises appear to have given in to BYOD, many are still reluctant to embrace it fully because of these very obvious security concerns.

The Lync solution seems an obvious one. While not providing the security needed to ensure that devices are safe to use, it will at least provide IT with the information it needs to build up adequate defenses.