Is your company wise about its BYOD policies?

Data security is of prime importance in almost all organizations. With the development in technology, stealing sensitive information and leaking data is as easy as breathing. To add to this, mobile devices are a perfect gateway for online hacking, data thefts, and cyber miscreants.

The Issue

Employees occasionally and unintentionally release important information or lose their smartphones and tablets that contain confidential data. This data could be very useful to the organization’s competitors. Most companies get their IT departments to keep a close watch on desktops used in office or taken on field. However, when it comes to smartphones and tablets, the follow up and monitoring gets slightly difficult. Companies rely on mobile technology for various official purposes like internal communications and information updates. While mobiles, smartphones and tablets help improve employee efficiency through immediate access of information and data on the go, it jeopardizes the very security of the organization.

Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD as it is better known, is the policy that permits employees to carry their personally owned mobile devices to work. BYOD also authorizes these employees to utilize their mobile devices to access and gain sensitive company information or data. It is critically important for employers to take some necessary steps towards the security of data.

1)      No-Jailbreak Policy Enforcement

Organizations keen on securing their data from unwanted leaks must enforce a ‘No-Jailbreak Policy’ that disallows the use of jailbroken devices in the office premises. The reason is that jailbroken devices are an easy access for installing unauthorized and unendorsed apps that embrace malicious features. This could mean risking the loss or theft of sensitive data from your organization.

2)      Regular Updates of Mobile Operating Systems

Organizations are constantly making efforts to ensure that their mobile operating systems are regularly updated to avoid vulnerabilities. There are a number of vulnerabilities that tend to compromise the security of data and information in an organization. However, by regularly updating your mobile operating systems, you can address this concern before it adversely affects your business.

3)      Password Impositions

It is imperative that employers enforce certain guidelines to certify the security of important data. Creation of passwords for the employees’ mobile devices can save your organization from unauthorized access. One needs to consider various scenarios in which information can be leaked out. For example, if an employee leaves an unlocked or non-password protected device in a grocery store, this could call for trouble, if it lands in the wrong hands. Someone who happens to find the device may access all your employees’ personal information and may also gain information on confidential correspondences. This risk can be minimized greatly by simply creating complex password protections on all employees’ mobile devices.

4)      Mobile Device Management

Organizations have now taken to MDM services in order to secure their employees’ mobile devices from unwarranted data thefts. MDM services allow employers to custom-design user profiles for their employees and these can be uploaded to the precise devices. MDM has created an easy avenue for managing work ethics at BYOD work places. IT departments in these organizations can also carry out remote un-enrollment of user devices wirelessly once the employee leaves the organization. This will automatically cut off all access to work related documents, information and apps. Therefore, employers can rest assured that former employees would not have access to any of their company’s data.

While having created a steady foothold for itself, BYOD has had some pros and cons. Even though the BYOD policy has more pros, the cons cannot be ignored either.

Benefits of the BYOD Policy:

1)      Cost Effective

BYOD is well known and adopted by most organizations for its cost effectiveness. This is one of the policy’s key benefits as organizations can avoid paying surplus costs for additional mobile devices, service charges and maintenance fees.

2)      Increased Productivity

With the introduction of the BYOD policy, organizations have witnessed an obvious increase in productivity. The fact that employees can access apps and work with ease from their mobile devices saves companies the trouble of getting employees to work in fixed locations. Employees can access data while they are on the move and save time and money.

3)      Higher Employee Retention Rate

Creating a happy and friendly environment is another boon offered by the BYOD policy. When employees know that they can comfortably work on their own devices, they experience freedom from being limited to one location with a fixed desktop. This creates employee satisfaction, thus resulting in a better employee retention rate.

Disadvantages of the BYOD Policy:

1)      Lack of Security

This is one of the major shortcomings of the BYOD policy. The fact that employees can carry their devices anywhere outside the workplace, puts an organization’s data security at risk, as information is out there and ready to be tampered with. IT departments have restricted access to monitoring activities that go on with the use of these devices and this again puts an employer at risk of loss of data.

2)      Work App Limitations

Certain organizations do not work on cross-platform apps and this causes a huge hindrance while attempting to implement a BYOD policy. Employers will need to change software and platforms for each device, which is a substantially impossible task. Implementation of the BYOD policy means that employees utilize their mobile devices for official as well as personal use, so employers cannot impose on employees that any certain device or platform be used.

When deciding on implementing a BYOD policy in an organization, employers need to validate its relevance in the today’s trending market. The success of this policy mainly depends on the fact that your software is cross-platform. Some companies are still unaware of the risk of loss of information. It is high time these organizations engage their IT teams in working out the best possible solutions. Mobile devices are increasingly gaining importance in most workplaces today. It is exceedingly important that organizations consider implementing a strong BYOD policy to secure their companies’ data and develop employee satisfaction.

Image Credit: Michael Coghlan on Flickr

Author : Stanley Anto Date : 16 Feb 2015