BYOD: All of the “Cool” Companies Allow It

A BYOD party can seem lame, but the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend in the workplace is more prevalent than ever. BYOD is a firm’s policy of allowing employees to bring their personal devices (phones, tablets, laptops, and wearables) to work with company systems, software, network, and information. Today this common practice has become a reality that employers and employees are embracing.

According to the 2022 research completed by Zippia, BYOD usage has increased by 58.3% since the 2019 pandemic. The same report also said that 75% of employees use their personal mobile phones for work, and 83% of companies have a BYOD policy of some kind. BYOD comes with many benefits, but with every benefit, you must account for risk.

A Few Benefits of BYOD

1. Corporate Spending Goes Down

If you don’t have to buy it, you don’t have to pay for it. Since employees are bringing their own devices into the office, companies are no longer responsible for purchasing that hardware. In addition, employees don’t need to be trained on how to use their own devices (they are already well versed in that).

2. Happy Employees Equals Productive Employees

Rather than being stuck with devices administered by corporate, employees are a lot happier using the mobile devices they already prefer and love. They are much more familiar with them, which makes them easier to use.

Bringing your own devices can decrease the number of frustrations that comes along with using alien technology. You can respond to requests faster, are more comfortable in your work environment, and have the freedom to work at any hour, increasing productivity.

3. Cutting-Edge Technology

Technology is always changing, and that is a constant. It would not be possible nor cost-effective for companies to provide the latest and greatest to all of their employees. Since BYOD devices tend to be more cutting edge than company-issued devices, the company realizes the benefits of modern-day technical capabilities and upgrades.

4. It Frees Up IT

Employees are responsible for the upkeep of their devices, which includes software updates. They are more self-sufficient with their devices and less reliant on their IT Department.

5. Sense of Ownership

BYOD brings flexibility and provides a sense of ownership because personal and professional devices are one and the same, making work more personal for employees. This can make them feel more actively engaged in company matters.

Now that Everyone is Happy, How Vulnerable is My Data?

How many employees have access to your company data on their mobile devices? Did you know that 113 cell phones are lost or stolen every minute? Twelve thousand laptops and tablets will be stolen this week alone—making contact lists, emails, internet credentials, credit card information, security codes, and business applications (to name a few) vulnerable.

Security is never guaranteed. Given that mobile devices are inherently moving targets used outside the organization’s protective walls (firewalls, threat management, etc.), it is vital to put a firm-wide policy and best practices in place to limit the exposure to security risk. Once the policy is established, it is crucial to educate employees on best practices, implement effective device management, and support and enforce the policy. Below are some security precautions that should be taken.

Routinely Check for Updates

Users must ensure that their device’s operating systems and other software are updated. When you receive messages from Apple (or any provider)—take action immediately. This is critical because these updates contain security patches to protect users from the “latest types” of attacks. In general, most updates can be found under the device settings.

Strong Passwords for Every Application

Think about your passwords. Is it your birthday that is listed on your social media site? Or another date of significance? Do you use one password or variations of that one? What about “123456” or “password,” the two most commonly used and easily hackable passwords? Passwords should be unique for each device and account. In addition, a password/access pin is the first step that should be taken.

Every password for every device and application should be randomized and include multiple characters. There are several password management applications out there that will generate strong passwords for you. Your only requirement is to remember the password that gets you access to that application. Click here for more information on what makes a good password. Through Managed IT Services, your provider will proactively manage password updates and changes for security purposes.

Understand Wi-Fi (Just because you can access it doesn’t mean you should!)

Wi-Fi connectivity should be turned off when not in use, and employees should only connect to trusted networks. Gone are the days of logging into the Starbucks network to do your work or logging into the Wi-Fi at your local gym so you can access Apple Radio. Ensure your device prompts you before it automatically logs into the networks that are not deemed safe.

Don’t Forget About the Applications

Do you know if the free app is safe? I mean, it’s free; how could it not be? Many of these applications track user information and share it with advertisers. As part of the BYOD policy, companies should provide users with a list of approved “free applications” that can be downloaded for security purposes.

These days, developing an app is like opening a credit card at The Gap—everyone is doing it. Given the pace of mobile innovation, the barrier to entry for creating a mobile app is low and can be full of vulnerabilities.

Encrypted Data is the Best Data

Encryption is one of the most robust ways to deter a security breach. It turns information into a code deemed “unbreakable” and requires a key to break and decode it. When you encrypt data on mobile devices, unauthorized users won’t be able to read it if they can’t access it. So if an employee drops their phone during a night out on the town, your data is “deemed” safe. Regardless of when a device is lost or stolen, the BYOD policy should outline the steps employees need to take to report these incidents.

Don’t Forget the Anti-Malware Software

Mobile devices are targets for malware. You need anti-malware software if you access the Internet through your mobile device. This goes double for anyone who wants to use such a device for work. Don’t know what anti-malware software to use? Speak to your IT Department or your Managed Services Provider for recommendations.

Never Ever Store Financial Information on Your Device

Yes, this is obvious, but some still do it. Do not store company financials or sensitive information on any of your devices—period.

Mobile Device Management

Every organization needs to control the mobile devices that access company data. Mobile Device Management (MDM) streamlines the setup and device enrollment process to make it seamless. In addition, they proactively secure mobile devices by specifying password policies, enforcing encryption settings, and selectively wiping corporate data, to name a few. Some provide the capability to monitor and report on the devices by providing software and hardware inventory. Contact The TNS Group to determine which MDM solution is best for you.

Do you have other questions about the technology at your company? The TNS Group is here to help. If you are currently a TNS partner, contact your friendly Account Manager for more information on your business technology. For more practical business IT tips, you may sign up to get them directly to your inbox.

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