We talk a lot about smartphones and tablets as business tools, but these days more and more people are using high-end devices personally. It’s likely that they are bringing these devices in to work, and often using them to become more productive at their job. We call this Bring-Your-Own-Device, or BYOD, and it isn’t a bad thing. The catch is managing security risks when users are using their own personal gadgets.
Some companies outlaw the use of personal devices, or lock employees into company-owned devices such as mobile phones simply to escape the responsibility of trying to manage personally owned devices. The goal is to not stifle productivity or make your employees feel like they can’t use their smart phone as a work tool, but protect sensitive company information and promote security. The lines are fine – policies that hinder employees from doing their jobs correctly can affect employee longevity and morale, and savvy users will find ways around them whenever possible.
Making sure your users are aware of risks and educating proper use is important, and it’s more than half the battle. Simple concepts like not clicking links from unknown senders and using secure passwords should always be passed down to staff. Some industries may need to enforce additional rules to protect sensitive data, so what works for a real estate agency isn’t the same solution an accounting firm should use.
Setting up policies such as the ability to deactivate or purge the device in the event it is lost or stolen is a great idea, and not only protects the business but the personal information the owner might have on the device. Most devices let you kick off domain and email policies such as data encryption as well, so if the device is stolen the data can’t be accessed without a password.
The real focus however, shouldn’t be on the device, but on the data itself. Look at where your data is being stored, how it is being accessed, and ask yourself if there are ways to improve that security. Contact PACE Technical Services if you’d like to evaluate your current security, it may be much more cost effective and secure to lock things down internally instead of trying to do so for each device that needs to access the data.
Finally, if a user brings their own laptop or tablet in to increase their productivity, consider controlling its access to the internet. One solution is to provide a completely separate way to access the internet that doesn’t go through the company’s internal network; such as a wireless access point. The device can then dial into the network and authenticate just as it would if it were outside of the organization. At that point, you wouldn’t need to manage the device so much as the same security policies that you have in place for remote access.
Do your employees bring mobile smartphones, tablets, or other devices into work to help them perform their job better? Give us a call at 905.763.7896 to secure your sensitive data without getting in the way of productivity.