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BYOD: How to Increase Productivity without Compromising Security

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BYOD devices: ipadUsing personal devices for business tasks is convenient but poses several security risks. Sadly, many are not aware of the safety issues of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices. Not everyone will pay attention to the way they access their company’s data through their smartphones or tablets. They won’t even think twice about connecting to a public Wi-Fi connection because their focus is getting work done. Let’s face it: Productivity trumps security for most users.

BYOD is something that gives network and security administrators headaches, both in house and offering managed IT services. It’s easy to lose important data when someone uses a personal device for work-related tasks without proper precautions. This opens the door for security breaches and other problems where disaster recovery. The question now is: Is it possible to improve productivity without compromising security when using personal devices for work?

The answer depends on how strong your drive is to improving both because, let’s face it, there will always be risks of losing data even if you workers are using company-owned computers. It all boils down on the user and how solid your company’s BYOD strategies are.

Implementing Clearly Defined Policies

Companies first need to create clear policies regarding usage of personal devices for work-related tasks. These must include why, when, and how they can access data. You need to draw the lines and make it clear to employees the risks involved in using their own devices. Conducting trainings and regular meetings about data security can be advantageous.

Don’t forget to get them involved. Most of the time, your employees don’t know their activities are compromising security because they have no idea. By educating your staff, you significantly reduce the risks.

You may think that only huge companies can pull this off because they have departments that can take care of trainings. They’re not the only ones. Although it might present some challenges, small business can also implement BYOD security strategies.

Encourage Responsible Data and Device Use

If users are well-informed of the risks involved, they’re more likely to become more responsible in using their devices. It’s up to you, as their boss, to lead by example. Be transparent. Demonstrate how you use your own devices for work, when possible. Encourage discussions and friendly exchanges between all concerned parties so that you can address any concern, like confusion about apps that they can or cannot download.

More importantly, give them the impression that you’re willing to assist if they encounter any problem. A recent Gartner study found that only 27 percent of users in the US that found security issues with their devices felt the need to report to their employers. You don’t want your staff to withhold critical information like this. You have to stay on top of any security concern and that will only happen if they’re comfortable enough to talk to you.

Consider Investing on the Appropriate Technology

Using the right technology is very important in securing your data. Even the most prudent employee can lose critical information if he doesn’t have the right tools. The most obvious route is to install antivirus and anti-malware software in all devices. In this day and age surveillance is getting a pad reputation, but monitoring the devices’ location and Internet traffic is a crucial aspect of preventing any security breach. That way, you can take appropriate actions when, say, an employee loses a tablet or smartphone. Monitoring software will let you either retrieve the device or, in the event it was stolen, help the authorities apprehend the culprit.

Kill Switch, Anyone?

These days, it’s increasingly easy to retrieve data from lost or stolen phones. This can be disastrous for companies. That’s why a kill switch might be the best solution. It’s basically a device that can remotely wipe or shut down any device and render the hardware unusable.

But there’s the question of what happens to the user’s personal information? Jeff Rubin, Vice President of Strategy at a security specialist company, raises this issue. The company’s option would be to contain the data on the user’s device so the kill switch can only wipe out applications that contain corporate data, leaving their personal files intact.

Another solution would be to use software that allows you to approve the applications installed in smartphones, tablets, and even laptops. Gartner predicted that the number of people who use mobile applications will double by 2015, and this makes software like this more appealing to business owners.

Dual Persona Smart Phones

Samsung and Blackberry have recently rolled out their own versions of security and management software that has dual-personality features, which enables users to separate personal and corporate data on devices like the Z10 and Galaxy S4.

What Should You Do?

BYOD is here to stay. In fact, companies across the globe are working towards improving the productivity, flexibility, and efficiency of their employees. So much, actually, that they will soon make it mandatory for employees to use their own devices. And with the increase of smartphone and tablet sales to consumers, you can only expect more people to use these in lieu of their office PCs. As such, it’s crucial that companies work hard in implementing solid strategies that improve productivity without compromising security, even if they use managed IT services and refer these matters to contractors for the most part.

A combination of the right tools and solid BYOD policies should be enough to get everyone on board, making them more responsible in using personal devices for work.

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