In today’s employment atmosphere, a growing number of companies are shifting toward a more flexible workplace. By implementing bring your own device (BYOD) policies employees are now increasingly using their own devices for business purposes.
Even though such policies can bring numerous benefits to companies, they come with some inherent risks. The following four issues are worth examining before deciding on a BYOD policy.
Every mobile device is vulnerable to hacks from outside sources. Your smartphone, tablet and laptop all have similar software that can be hacked if firewalls and other security features aren’t in place or aren’t updated regularly.
Busy employees often put off their security updates. Unfortunately, their phones are then automatically open to potential attacks. In a regular IT environment, it’s up to the business’s IT department to secure every device used for company purposes. Since the devices are the employees’ private property, they are responsible of keeping them updated with the latest versions of security software.
Viruses and Malware
Viruses and malware have numerous pathways that they can take to infect an employee’s device. The worst thing is that an employee’s device could be hacked without them even being aware of the situation.
For example, your employees can receive phishing email with a malicious link that could install viruses or malware when clicked on. The infection could then spread onto the company’s server and compromise corporate information in a matter of seconds.
The phishing email could also look as if it’s from a familiar contact or even a legitimate website. It could ask your employees to click on a link and in order to log in into their account. The employees would then enter their user names and passwords on fake websites giving hackers access to their sensitive information. Identity theft is always a possibility in these hacking situations.
Your employees might use their devices to connect to public Wi-Fi to access necessary data on your company’s server or to go online for personal needs. Unfortunately, using public networks is dangerous since they allow multiple people to connect to the same network, and that includes hackers.
Hackers could intercept the data your employees download or upload, they could install malware on your staff’s devices and even gain access to their email. This is another way malware could spread from the infected devices onto the company’s server and compromise the safety of corporate data.
Your employees need to be aware of these threats and take the appropriate preventive measures. Instruct your employees to turn off Wi-Fi when they don’t need it and disable it from automatically connecting to open networks.
You can also set up a virtual private network (VPN) which will allow your employees to connect to a hotspot without worrying about data breaches. Connecting to a VPN encrypts and secures any data being sent or received. This disables hackers from intercepting sensitive information and compromising the security of your employees’ devices.
The best opportunity for stealing corporate data is when a device gets into the wrong hands. Lost or stolen devices are always a big security issue, which can lead to leaked proprietary data and vulnerable business positions.
IT professionals need a plan in cases this happens. A remote wipe policy is a very good solution which allows the IT team to completely remove all data on a device after it’s been reported missing.
Since BYOD devices include an employee’s personal data, you need to make sure that the employee agrees to a remote wipe of every piece of data even before they are hired.
Employees should see this step as both a protective corporate and identity-theft policy. To avoid any further information hacks, employees can also make it more difficult to access the data in the first place. A fingerprint or PIN passcode frustrates thieves, and they might toss the device before trying to access the information.
These security issues aren’t a reason to forgo a BYOD policy. However, appropriate security measures are necessary in order for it to be successful. Begin your BYOD strategy by educating your employees about the importance of regular updates and how to recognize security threats.
They need to understand that every piece of data is priceless to the business and their personal life. In reality, many people don’t realize how valuable their data is to hackers outside of the corporate atmosphere.
Employees also need to agree to corporate statements, liabilities and compliance measures in order to make this BYOD program a success. At the very least, add professional indemnity insurance coverage to the company so that any data leaks are quickly resolved.
Finally, by protecting the data with software and passwords, businesses can keep their proprietary information private. In the end, the employee’s device can be as safe as any company-issued electronic.
About the Author:
Josh McAllister is a freelance technology journalist with years of experience in the IT sector, and independent business consultant. He is passionate about helping small business owners understand how technology can save them time and money.