The BYOD Debate: Personal Device Use for Corporate Authentication


I’m a Sysadmin at a German subsidiary of a larger international company. We’re transitioning from using Evidian for token authentication to Windows Hello for Business. Previously, new hires would use a pre-generated Windows password and then set up a PIN for their token card. However, we’ve been informed that moving forward, new employees must use their personal phones for initial authentication with Windows Hello for Business.

This is problematic because company phones are typically issued 1-2 weeks after starting, and not all employees have personal smartphones. I’m concerned this policy could exclude potential hires and complicate the IT setup process, especially for those unfamiliar with smartphone use. Additionally, there are security risks if accounts are not properly deactivated.

Our company, which values the separation of private and work life, is against using personal devices for work purposes. The parent company is based in Austria, where laws differ, but our company’s security standards are very high, and BYOD is not permitted.

We currently use smartcards with Evidian, and YubiKey may be introduced in the future. We plan to discuss these concerns with our legal and HR teams to determine the best approach for onboarding new employees. What are your thoughts on this situation and the use of personal devices for initial authentication?”


In the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the integration of personal devices into professional settings has become a contentious issue. The scenario presented by a Sysadmin at a German subsidiary of a larger international company highlights the complexities and potential pitfalls of such a policy.

The transition from Evidian’s token authentication to Windows Hello for Business is a significant shift in the company’s security protocol. The new policy requiring new employees to use their personal phones for initial authentication raises several concerns.

Not all employees possess personal smartphones, and company phones are provided well after the commencement of employment. This gap could inadvertently lead to the exclusion of potential hires who may not have the means or preference to use a personal device for work-related purposes.

Complications in IT Setup

For those unfamiliar with advanced smartphone functions, the setup process could become a daunting task, potentially increasing the workload on IT departments to provide additional support and guidance.

Security Risks

The use of personal devices introduces a layer of complexity to account deactivation procedures. If not managed meticulously, there lies a risk of former employees retaining access to company data through their personal Microsoft accounts.

The Principle of Work-Life Separation

The company’s stance against the use of personal devices for work underscores the importance of maintaining a clear boundary between employees’ private and professional lives. This principle is not only a matter of preference but also a reflection of the company’s commitment to respecting the personal space and assets of its workforce.

Legal and Cultural Considerations

The parent company’s location in Austria, with its distinct legal framework within the EU, adds another layer of complexity. The company’s high security and data privacy standards, which surpass those of some banks, indicate a rigorous approach to protecting client and company data.

Looking Ahead

The company’s current use of smartcards and the potential introduction of YubiKey represent a continued investment in secure authentication methods. The upcoming discussions with legal and HR teams will be crucial in navigating the legal, ethical, and practical implications of the new policy.

In conclusion, while the integration of personal devices into the authentication process may offer convenience and modernization, it is imperative to weigh these benefits against the potential risks and ethical considerations. A balanced approach that respects employee privacy, ensures inclusivity, and maintains robust security measures is essential for the successful implementation of any new authentication protocol.

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