BYOD - Cost saver or big risk?
When employees bring their own device (BYOD) to use for work, they may get increased productivity because they don’t have to be tethered to their desk to get work done, but BYOD can pose significant risks to the safety of business data. While accessing email, calendars, applications and data from their own smartphones and tablets can be a benefit to employers, there are potential risks and challenges to the company in the form of costs, policies, and user support.
Why Employees Like BYOD
Smartphone use in the United States has dramatically increased in the past few years. Age groups at all levels are seeing increased device adoption. Younger generations in the 25 – 35 year old range consider their smartphones a necessity and when they are at work, they consider them an extension of their work station. People have strong preferences for the kind of device they like to use. When BYOD is an option, they can work with the interface that they like best.
Pros and Cons for Employers
The obvious advantage for employers is that they do not need to purchase smartphone hardware for employees. The cost savings, however, are countered by the need for management and support, and the possible adoption of a cost-sharing policy with the employee. Another advantage of BYOD to employers is that their employees can continue their work duties when they are away from the office, but this comes at a price as well if business information and customer data has to leave the security of the corporate network.
Securing Business Information on Employee Devices
Before applying resources to securing data, companies should determine exactly what data needs to be protected. The security solution could be installation of antivirus software, implementation of data encryption or the control of network access. As mobile device management systems have evolved, more options are available that allow businesses to better manage their protection of data without completely taking over the device.
What Business Should Do to Limit BYOD Risks
Determine who in your organization might be eligible to access work email and data from their devices. If you are in a highly regulated industry such as finance or healthcare, this will automatically place limits on what you can do. Decide what apps and data needs to be accessed and build a management system that will monitor and secure your business data. Develop a BYOD policy that addresses how the device will be managed with clear employee and employer expectations. Utilize Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools that provide the visibility and control that you need for your business data wherever it is accessed.
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