The age of the Internet is coming to your employees’ pockets as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend continues to sweep across industries all over the world. Employees already use their smartphones to check email, send out company updates and schedule meetings. Allowing employees to conduct these and other company business on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops can be dangerous when left unchecked, but proper BYOD policies and software can keep your mobile operations safe.
There are many ways you can mitigate the risk of data loss, breaches, or even theft by managing the equipment your employees use and the agreements you have with your employees. Non-disclosure agreements and non-competitive clauses are essential for all BYOD participants because they remove incentive to take information for personal gain.
After you have your employee agreements in place, you can move on to developing the infrastructure and security that are needed to deploy a BYOD program.
Safety for BYOD requires encryption software; the only question around this software is where to apply it. Encryption must be applied to any devices that would cause harm or interrupt your operations if it is lost or stolen.
When choosing an encryption option, look for the features that are most important to you. These features include operating system support, app and email support, and restrictions for accessing your network – this can include time-sensitive keys or simple requirements like secure Wi-Fi for access to your network.
One essential feature is the ability to remotely wipe sensitive information or disconnect devices from your secure network. These controls must be provided but they also must be difficult to access. You don’t want anyone to accidently wipe a smartphone, but you also don’t want your data unchecked out in the wild.
After creating a list of features you want and need, look for available systems and find the best that suits your needs. Selecting your platform first allows you to have the software in place before you begin the use of personal devices and also lets the features guide which devices you support instead of choosing the platform based on existing devices.
After creating a plan to secure your devices as soon as they are approved for your network, you’ll need a policy in place to control their management and support. Chiefly, this will mean determining when your IT staff needs to be in charge of fixing and supporting the devices your employees use.
The policy will need to specify which apps your team will support, such as email or a VPN connection, while noting that your IT resources aren’t to be used to reinstall Angry Birds.
As any smartphone user knows, things go wrong. It’s your job to make it clear when IT can aid in fixing issues and when the employee needs to fix the product themselves or take it to their service provider.
A secondary part of your plans and policy may need to be the involvement of your Human Resources department. HR can help you craft guidelines that fit current employment laws and also help create clear lines of communication to use when problems arise. When questions or violations arise, having HR already on board will make addressing the concerns that much faster.
A Matter of When, Not If
The BYOD trend is growing around the world. In major cities such as New York, 91% of professionals use their smartphones for business activities. In the UK, 82% of companies surveyed by Intel say they currently offer at least a partial BYOD program.
Nearly half of all managers view BYOD as a positive program specifically for the sake of productivity, and 58% of employees think it will make them happier, according to Quest and Gartner. In the EU and the Americas, security is the largest concern for instituting a BYOD program but security is also the largest point of investment for BYOD companies and services.
BYOD programs are coming, and soon they will be expected by employees. Starting with the right security and management foundation can make your program successful and keep employees happy while limiting the risk you face in case of loss or theft.
Image Credits: © basketman23 - Fotolia.com