BYOD - Keep Your Company Data Secure
Technology is constantly evolving. We are always hearing about new devices and technological improvements.
Productivity devices, for example, are becoming increasingly popular. Employees are widely embracing these devices to boost better productivity at work. However, not all devices are made alike, especially in terms of security features. This results in an increasing number of implications for IT departments.
Today we live in a world where BYOD or ‘Bring You Own Device’ has become a common practice. It comes with a lot of benefits for employees and businesses alike. In fact, the concept is fast moving beyond laptops, thanks to the advent of smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology. Statistics indicate that over 60 percent of employees are accessing crucial business data via mobile devices. The market for wearable devices is also expanding, making it far more challenging for IT departments to ensure the security of company data.
The new functionality that BYOD brings into the workplace was hardly considered by many businesses and their IT departments, which only makes the security issues more challenging. Here are a few components that enterprising IT departments need to ponder upon in order to keep up with the growing popularity of BYOD.
Partner with End-Users
To leverage the benefits of BYOD, IT departments need to partner with end-users regarding how to use the network. In most cases, IT treats end users as bandwidth consumers, who are required to be managed. The command-and-control IT model has become obsolete in today's technology landscape. Research shows that employees are more productive when using their personal devices that are supported by company’s network. This is the new model for IT and you need to comply with it, period.
Instead of seeing this as a power struggle, IT professionals need to evaluate the possibilities BYOD can bring into the business, in order to unlock new opportunities. But to incorporate the BYOD network impact, businesses need to look beyond technology. It is equally important to establish BYOD policies and practices that empower the end-users, thus transforming the concept into a beneficial system for every party involved.
Almost all previous version releases, if used for a prolonged period of time, become vulnerable to hacking. Updates, therefore, are constantly being created and released. They usually address the weak points of the previous versions that could compromise the security of your crucial business data. To minimize or eliminate security threats, you should make it mandatory for employees to update their device and/or system.
Furthermore, you should always monitor the use hand-me-down devices closely. What happens to the trusted and registered devices when your employees upgrade to a new device? What about the precious information stored in those devices?
You can only imagine what happens if the wrong person obtains access to your business data and resources, along with the device. To eliminate this risk, have your employees register their new devices with your IT department regularly. This allows the IT department to control who gains IT access, install MDM (Mobile device management), and monitor privileges. The IT department, furthermore, will also have details about the transition of old devices, allowing them to remove data before the device is handed down to a different employee.
In addition, it is crucial that IT departments make employees aware of potential security threats. To raise awareness, all employees need to be educated on security. It is equally important to perform an audit periodically and look for any unusual patterns of usage. Unusual patterns can indicate that the devices were handed off to an unauthorized person without proper notice. Additionally, old devices that are no longer in use should be decommissioned.
Keep It Clean
First things first, review your BYOD policy for possible security loopholes. As mentioned, it is essential that you have a proper mobile device management system in place within your BYOD policy. MDM software is imperative to ensure the security of your critical business data, especially if a device is stolen, lost, or improperly transferred. Having this software allows you to remotely wipe all company-related data from the device.
Also, do not allow your employees to use jailbroken devices. Instead, encourage them to opt for closed systems, such as Apple’s, for the sake of your company’s data security. Jailbroken devices allow users to install any unofficial or unauthorized apps and/or features onto their devices, which can contain malicious features and seriously threaten the security of your data and resources. Companies allowing BYOD should therefore enforce a stringent no-jailbreak policy for all employees.
Employees need to be careful about the apps and features that they download on their devices. Before installing apps, employees should read app reviews to identify any bugs and security threats ahead of time, whether they are using the device to access company resources or not.
Using BYOD Outside Your Workplace
Your workplace is no longer defined by your office or by walls. Today, there are no specific work hours either. BYOD allows flexibility like never before. Employees today are always connected by means of tablets, smartphones, phablets, and other devices. This means, they are accessing company data and resources from various Internet access points and locations throughout the day.
Simply registering devices, therefore, is not enough. You also need to control access by a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, to allow a secure and encrypted connection to keep hackers out of your system.
While BYOD enhances productivity by providing the flexibility of working from anywhere and anytime, it can also pose serious security threats. You need to analyze and identify the possible security threats. Create a policy for your work tablets and smartphones to address those issues. If you don’t have a BYOD policy yet, it's time to collaborate with your IT department to create proactive security measures to brace yourself against malware, unintentional data leaks, and potential security attacks.
Sean Casto is the founder and CEO of PreApps.com, the leading mobile marketing and discovery platform. Sean has been a guest speaker at industry conventions for Microsoft and Samsung and lectured at Universities such as Northeastern and Harvard. He has also appeared on and been mentioned by The Washington Post, USA Today, The Boston Globe, Boston News Network, and The Associated Press. Through his work and industry experience, Sean has acquired a deep understanding of the struggles developers face and a passion to serve the growing mobile app community and holds an advisory position for numerous start-ups.