Companies all over the country are questioning whether they should offer BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) accessibility to employees. This practice of allowing workers to use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops for work-related tasks is gaining popularity for several reasons: increased productivity (since the worker is more familiar with his or her own machine), improved employee engagement (since the employer seems flexible), and reduced capital expenditure. That last point makes BYOD especially appealing to startup companies.
However, the advantages of this approach are paired with risks, meaning BYOD creates more work for internal IT services. BYOD opens up any company to far more security risks since employees will likely be using their devices remotely. Below, we outline more concerns any BYOD policy should address. This is folded into a larger discussion of what skills and resources a traditional IT approach will require in order to safely, and effectively allow for BYOD. These are some of the dangers an IT consulting service such as Lead I.T. can help you navigate:
What Traditional IT Experts Will Need to Adapt to BYOD
The first step in allowing employees to work from their own devices is to create a BYOD plan that addresses key security and operability considerations. The following is a basic rundown of the security questions your IT services department should research and report on before diving into BYOD. Create a company policy that addresses these issues:
- Will hourly employees be tracking their own hours when working away from the office?
- How will you back up data on employees’ devices?
- Will you provide operation systems for all devices? Can you afford to do so?
- Can BYOD devices “play well” with company machines?
- What happens when an employee-owned device is lost? If a worker is using a smartphone to access email, and that phone is lost, could your company be harmed by that breach of security?
- If a BYOD machine breaks, who will pay for it? Will the company be required to pay for employee’s phone bill, internet access, etc?
Below, we expand on each of these general points. For more detailed information on these BYOD concerns, contact an IT consulting service, which can provide tailored advice for your firm.
Prevent security breaches and data loss. It is wise to set up a password protocol for every BYOD machine. That way, an employee will have to enter a password to use the device. If the laptop or phone is lost, the password will offer a layer of security. Additionally, you may want to set up the ability to remotely “wipe” any employee-used machine. With the right setup, you can delete all data from a lost phone or laptop. IT services should warn employees that their private data would likely be lost as well. To prevent loss of data, it makes sense to use cloud-based data storage. It is unwise to have employees store data locally, on the phone or laptop.
Understand and apply best-practice security techniques. The biggest challenge with BYOD is figuring out how to keep employee-downloaded apps secure. IBM recently confronted this when company leaders discovered their employees were using risky apps on their BYOD machines, such as the file-sharing app Dropbox. IBM has also revised its BYOD policy to prevent employees from using their remote devices as wireless hotspots. As you create a BYOD approach, recognize that you will need to educate employees on how to safely use devices. An IT consulting service can provide a list of apps to avoid. Additionally, professional IT services would recommend setting up a secure wireless protocol, specifically a WPA2-Enterprise, to make sure your company information is encrypted, private and protected from attacks.
Expand troubleshooting capabilities. Troubleshooting BYOD machines can be challenging. An IT consulting service will generally suggest making in-house troubleshooting a last resort rather than the go-to solution for BYOD users.
Keep yourself up to date on mobile device management tools. Depending on the size of your company, it may make sense to set different policies or levels of accessibility for different employees. Or, if you want an all-in-one solution, discuss mobile device management tools with your IT consulting service. There are more than 40 companies offering mobile management tools these days, some providing service for as little as $3-6 per device per month.
As you can see, allowing employees to bring their own devices to work poses real security and operability challenges. To make sure your BYOD setup is safe and effective, we recommend partnering with a top-notch IT consulting service.