Remember when employees used to walk in the door with two mobile phones holstered on their hips, one for work and one personal?
It didn’t do much for fashion or efficiency, did it?
Now most people bring one phone to work and sometimes a tablet or laptop too, usually their own. Chances are good people are using these personal gadgets to access company resources, and unknowingly exposing your company to security risks.
These threats are real and need to be dealt with, but there’s no need to panic. There are many advantages to having employees use personal devices for work. With a few security enhancements and employee training, you can minimize the risk and maximize the benefits of a mobile workforce.
Advantages of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
This conundrum is a direct result of our never ending quest for speed and efficiency. We live in a world where people need to work on the go, and the cost of outfitting employees for mobile is significant. When you add it all up – buying and maintaining devices, purchasing service plans and apps, and managing security – a mobile workforce becomes a pricey proposition for most businesses.
Employees are bringing their own devices to work which is reshaping how we accomplish tasks on the job, and despite the risks involved, BYOD offers many benefits:
Increases flexibility – Instead of forcing corporate hardware preferences on employees, BYOD allows them to work on phones, laptops and/or tablets they love and use regularly.
Removes barriers – When people use their own devices, it allows them to seamlessly transition from personal to work related tasks. This can boost productivity, but should be managed carefully. It’s unhealthy for people to feel connected to work at all times, and sooner or later they will burn out.
Reduces costs – Companies no longer need to purchase and service new mobile devices for staff.
Security Risks of BYOD
For all the advantages it offers, BYOD can be a nightmare for IT. The reason is obvious – you can’t protect sensitive company data without controlling network devices. Here are two ways personal devices compromise security:
Data Exposure – Businesses cannot control the apps employees install on their own devices. Even apps that aren’t malicious by design still have to be configured correctly and updated on a regular basis to be safe. And even phone manufacturers are inconsistent about security updates. Apple sends software updates to the entire market all at once, but Android updates depend more on carriers and manufacturers. Many companies are responding to this threat by using Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology which streamlines this process.
Employees also set up their devices to connect to any open Wi-FI when they are out and about, and most of the time they lack proper security configurations. The best way for organizations to neutralize this risk is by using MDM technology to enforce network devices to use a VPN (virtual private network) when accessing company data.
Losing Devices – People lose devices all the time, and this doesn’t bode well for the corporate network they connect to, especially if the device doesn’t require a pin code for use. Some experts claim that more than 50 percent of security breaches are caused by theft of a device, so it’s critically important that companies use encryption techniques to safeguard their data and require employees to setup a sign-in code on their devices. Companies are also using strategies like containerization, which allows them to isolate and erase company information without compromising anything else on the user’s phone.
How Do We Implement BYOD In Our Office?
At Vermont Connections, we help clients keep their internal networks safe by implementing two systems for successful BYOD operations:
- Secure Wireless Networking – We will work your existing equipment if it meets industry standards, or help you pick out new devices that can segment BYOD network devices from your corporate computers and servers.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) – The MDM software we use at Vermont Connections is secure and cloud-based. This means that no additional hardware is required to implement the solution. The system allows us to manage policies to protect BYOD devices while allowing your employees to feel safe about access company data as well as their personal information.
BYOD is here to stay. The emergence of Mobile Device Management (MDM) technology is allowing businesses control over how personal devices interact with corporate resources, while leveraging benefits for everyone involved.
The best thing you can do is evaluate potential threats mobile devices could introduce to your systems and address them one at a time. By taking some precautions, BYOD can cut costs while enabling your employees to be more productive, and that doesn’t have to come at the expense of your security.