The BYOD (bring your own device) movement is becoming the new normal for interaction and collaboration by many of today’s businesses.
The latest report from Tyntec shows that in the U.S. more than 60 percent of employees use their personal phones for work purposes. While BYOD gives people greater flexibility and could result in a better work-life balance, it also presents many challenges for company security.
Due to increasing BYOD practices, a wide range of devices and applications are finding their way into organizations and their servers, often without the approval and knowledge on the IT department. This leads to the problem of Shadow IT or Stealth IT, where applications and solutions are being deployed without IT approval and management. Despite BYOD presenting major headaches for IT, employees tend to be more productive when they are permitted to use their own mobile devices for work, according to Aberdeen Group. Modern-day businesses demand the flexibility and increased productivity that BYOD can provide. People who use their smartphones for work tend to take care of work-related items after hours, and it’s invaluable for remote or traveling employees.
How do organizations balance the demands necessary to be successful with the increased risk to security that comes part and parcel with BYOD practices? The answer lies in closing the divide between IT and end users.
How IT Can Befriend BYOD
For a long time, IT had the final say in all company tech-related issues. With the consumerization of IT, the old legacy model is quickly eroding from the modern business culture. IT needs to stop working from behind sealed walls and try to work with and manage end users. They need to realize that tightening control over technology will adversely affect employee productivity, which is ultimately bad for business. Once IT understands the advantages that BYOD brings, they can help mitigate any threats and leverage the new opportunities it allows. But how do IT leaders do so while safeguarding company security? The views of Kevin Peypoldt, IS Director for Structural Integrity Associates, as shared in a ZDNet article, point to the answer:
“It starts with trusting the end user, building policy that protects both the end user’s freedoms and the organisation’s data and systems, and moves IT to enabling both the employee and building systems that balance access with security.”
For a BYOD policy to be truly successful, IT needs to partner with all the company’s employees. By working in tandem with the end users and gaining a new perspective, IT can be instrumental in helping a business flourish. However, without proper security measures, even the best BYOD initiatives can fail. This is why it’s vital to establish usage policies and best practices.
Ways to Encourage Use of BYOD and Secure Company Data
Incorporate BYOD policies. To make BYOD successful and reap its benefits, it is important for companies to establish usage policies. Let employees know what they can and cannot access on their personal devices. With policies in place, data will remain more secure and employees will be on the same page about BYOD best practices. MDM (mobile device management) proves to be an invaluable third-party software that will help IT keep company data secure.
Conduct regular upgrades. Today, smartphones and tablets are replaced faster than ever before as new technology gets quickly rolled out. When an employee gets a new mobile device, it is critical to remove access and data from the old device before it is handed down or sold to anyone else. IT should then install MDM software on the new device and make a record of the new phone. To prevent data theft, IT should perform regular audits to track unusual data usage patterns.
Develop wearable device policies. IT needs to be aware of any wearable devices and their implication on the network. It’s important to include wearables in any BYOD policies, such as how, when, and where to use, plus data storage guidelines. Some wearable devices are more of a threat than others, so IT should take measures to prevent potential data thefts.
Understand that BYOD goes beyond the workplace. When people are using their personal devices for work, the smartphones go where they go. That means work data can be at Aunt Tillie’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Because of this, it is essential for an organization to have BYOD policies about the usage and access outside of work. It may even be wise to only offer company access via VPN, which will help keep data more secure.
Update company policies on a regular basis. As technology evolves, so does the essence of BYOD, and company policies will also need to be changed or tweaked to keep up with innovations. Maintain an up-to-date BYOD policy as new devices and new technology is introduced.
BYOD Best Practices
To leverage all the benefits of BYOD, it’s essential to follow certain best practices. Here are some BYOD management best practices which allow IT to secure data and help improve productivity.
• BYOD policies should clearly outline what can be and can’t be accessed on personal devices.
• Policy guidelines should be clear and compliance should be mandatory.
• Include all possible devices and their usage in the company BYOD policy.
• Policies should specify the use of Wi-Fi networks as a concern for data security.
• Policies must include clauses regarding loss, theft, exit policies, and technical issues.
• Make sure even the top executives and their devices adhere to the company BYOD policies.
• Create secure credentials for employees to use for accessing company data.
Technology is at the core of BYOD, but its true success lies with people who use it. IT needs to understand the advantages and take the necessary steps to establish best practices and policies for the new BYOD workplace, rather than trying to curb it. It may always be a delicate balance between productivity and network security, but with employees and IT working hand-in-hand to make the new normal benefit everyone, the sky’s the limit.
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