In the workplace, employees sometimes find their IT departments struggle to keep up with the pace of technology change which is why so many adopt the bring your own device (BYOD) approach to work.   From personal laptops to tablets to smartphones, this world of IT self-sufficiency has meant that employees often have the newest and latest technology at their fingertips.   Companies end up playing catch up but instead of building a barrier against BYOD, they need to understand the benefits and the risks.

When companies adopt a BYOD strategy, they find that there is often more employee satisfaction due to work flexibility.  Allowing staff to bring in their own devices can improve productivity and staff motivation.  They are happier, more comfortable and faster working with technology that is familiar.  There’s also cost savings for the business due to the reduction in hardware spend, software licensing and device maintenance.  Companies do however need to limit the number of devices users can use.

With all these BYO devices floating around an office, businesses need to be aware of the implications of staff accessing and storing corporate information on their own device.  IT departments will have less control over the BYOD compared to a traditional company owned and provided device.  Data security is the number one concern.  What do they have access to?  What security is in place and what happens if one of these devices is lost or stolen?

IT departments and managers need to specify the types of data that can be stored on the unsupported BYOD. Network security is absolutely paramount.  By encrypting sensitive data, preventing local storage of company documents or limiting access to non-sensitive areas, a mobile strategy can evolve.  If any device accesses or stores company data, a full risk assessment should take place against a variety of threats and the appropriate measures put in place.  Anti-malware, encryption, passcodes, remote wipe, jailbreaking prevention, sandboxing are all ways to protect a system without compromising security. It’s also important to have a process in place for quickly revoking access to a device a user might have in the event of a loss or theft.

Whilst the use of BYOD has given rise to a number of data protection concerns, employees want to have the same technological experience at work as they do at home.  It is still possible to give employees what they want, but your IT department still needs to manage and secure important data on mobile devices, whether they are owned by a company or an employee.