Mobile devices are now so ubiquitous that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to business owners to learn their employees are using their own tablets, phones and laptops to conduct even the smallest work-related tasks. If they have not done so already, businesses owners should think about creating a company-wide policy regarding bring-your-own-device (BYOD) employees. Why? Although some employees may be more comfortable (and even more productive) using their own devices for work, they may be inadvertently putting company data at risk. To counter that, entrepreneurs should establish BYOD policies detailing how employee devices can be used, when accessing data (and sharing data) is appropriate, and which apps are suitable for work.
The Potential Downsides of BYOD
BYOD can benefit a business, but it is not without pitfalls. Since employees will be using personal devices to access some company data, it increases the risk of malware infestation as well as the possibility of data theft. If hackers gain access to a business network, they can compromise it, prevent clients from using services or use company credentials to make purchases. They can also download viruses, crash hard drives, and even hold the network hostage in exchange for a ransom. Dangers can also come from inside your organization if employees (or former employees) chose to exploit your network.
Besides security threats, business owners must also consider other BYOD-related outlays. For instance, who will shoulder the costs of computer repair for employee devices? Will the boss also cover the costs of voice and data packages, business apps, and device insurance? These can all cut into the budget of a small business.
Managing BYOD in a Small Business
To best manage BYOD, it is best for business owners to introduce an official policy specific to their organization and focused on their own unique situations. It should include the following five specific measures:
Before adopting comprehensive policies, you should first determine the types of devices and apps that staff presently use. You may find that the BYOD is not as prevalent among employees as first imagined. If that’s the case, you may want to consider purchasing work-only devices for your staff – preloaded with secure operating systems and apps. This will enable you to establish and manage consistent mobile business functions going forward.
Comprehensive Work-Life BYOD Policies
If you determine employees are already comfortable using their own devices for work, you may want to create a small business BYOD policy acknowledging this, but establishing guidelines for both personal and business use. You’ll need to strike the right balance in managing day-to-day operations, keeping in mind that employees will need to use their devices for personal use. Policies created with this balance in mind will likely result in employees buying into your overall BYOD rules.
With so many apps available for mobile users, you need to determine which ones will be allowed for business-related matters. You may have to restrict some popular apps from BYOD devices. If you plan on rolling out your own small business apps, factor in the time and resources needed to support and maintain those apps. You should also take into account the resources and costs needed for inevitable app upgrades.
Monitoring Mobile Devices
Your need to monitor mobile devices should be explained to your staff in your BYOD policy – even if the devices are owned by employees. And – regardless of who owns the device – you will also need to determine which employees will be given access to company data. Managing that access can help mitigate damage brought on by a breach should a device get lost or stolen. With that in mind, you should also consider installing location tracking as well as the ability to perform remote data wiping. These safeguards can help when devices or lost or stolen as well as when employees leave the company or upgrade their devices.
BYOD Management is a Constantly Evolving Strategy
As technology evolves for mobile devices and applications, your small business will have to audit its BYOD management standards from time to time and modify practices so that personal mobile device usage remains in line with company policies. Business owners must constantly measure and evaluate BYOD usage to decide whether its deployment continues to be beneficial versus the costs and risks that come with the policy.
Developing BYOD policies early on will provide you with an action plan on how to deal with security for employee devices and how business resources will be deployed to create and deploy a viable BYOD environment. The policies need to address possible vulnerabilities to operations and focus on risk management solutions should these issues arise. If you have questions or concerns regarding the devices or the technology behind the devices, feel free to contact Geeks on Site for guidance. We are specialists in managing small business computer support.