After serious consideration, you've allowed workers to BYOD (bring-your-own-device). They can now use their own laptops, notebooks, smartphones and tablets in the office and to conduct business after hours. Now it's time to quickly swing into action and choose the right supporting technology and IT strategy for maximising your productivity and network security.
The BYOD express is running at full speed
Good news and bad news—smartphones and tablets enhance productivity and responsiveness by enabling workers to use their own favorite technology, effectively extending gadget-addicted employee workdays into personal time. Adopting a BYOD strategy can also lower your initial capital expenditures.
The flip side is where smart choices come into play. To manage and secure a wide array of personally owned and hard-to-track devices, your IT team needs to implement clear policies, procedures and safeguards to protect applications and sensitive business data against malware, device loss and failure. Failure to do so can not only dramatically increase your operating expenses; it can damage the reputation and integrity of your business.
Expect the unexpected
• Don't bank on fixing potential technology issues when they happen. Instead, create and apply specific policies up front.
• Establish clear instructions about which company information resides on personal devices and how to keep it safe.
• Employees should be schooled on steps to take in case they lose their device. Most smartphones have the capability to erase—or wipe—data remotely.
To maintain worker productivity, you can provide replacement devices following loss or downtime for repair. Requiring the use of standard, company-approved document and information formats such as PDFs will also help to keep BYOD environments running smoothly.
IT can use network-accessible application programming interfaces (APIs) and mobile device management (MDM) software to leverage investments in existing logic and data. APIs enhance security by enabling access control and data protection, with the added benefit of providing auditing capabilities. BYOD users should have access to enterprise information only after accepting an MDM program on their personal devices, and using URL filtering tools such as a cloud-based secure Web gateway service.
Playing it safe
Password controls, locking enforcement after multiple password retry attempts and remote wiping of personal devices in the event of data compromise are among other BYOD-related security options. Caution: the latter can present legal and cultural issues that you might need to carefully weigh. User permission to access the device may be required. To be on the safe side, employers should require workers to sign agreements regarding remote wiping, as the process may also result in the complete loss of all personal data, photos and information on a smartphone or other mobile device. Documentation should also include details about the extent to which a business can remotely monitor what employees are doing with their own devices.
Your business can also achieve greater BYOD environment security by issuing company-owned devices..
BYOD isn't the wave of the future; it's here—and it's here to stay. Proactive, well-prepared businesses and their satisfied employees stand to reap the benefits.
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of this newspaper.)
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