How BYOD Is Affecting Your Business's File Security
No longer just a novel approach to office technology, BYOD (bring your own device) policies have become common practice in today’s workplaces. It’s easy to see why as we grow more dependent on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices by the day.
Considering the power and convenience these devices offer, it’s easy to see why more and more organizations are allowing employees to use their devices for work purposes. While this is a nice, and frankly common sense, perk to offer employees, BYOD policies aren’t without their challenges. Explore this article to learn more about the benefits and risks of having a BYOD policy in your organization. You’ll also learn how to mitigate the file security risks for maximum benefit.
Benefits of BYOD Policies
Why do so many companies embrace this policy? There are a number of reasons listed below, but it’s also important to remember that this is a natural progression of the digital age. As technology becomes more accessible by the day, your employees are going to become more reliant on the technology they already own, whether this means accessing important documents on their tablet or simply logging into their email from their mobile phone.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of BYOD policies in the workplace.
- Cost Savings - Supplying your entire workforce with computers, laptops, mobile devices, and more can cost thousands of dollars, and that price only increases as your workforce grows. By allowing your employees to use their own devices, you avoid the high cost of supplying them yourself. In fact, one report cites a $350 annual savings per employee when companies allow BYOD policies.
- Time Savings - How much time are your spending on training your employees to use devices? When they’re using devices they’re already familiar with, your employees will save time learning and your organization will be more productive. You may be surprised to find that U.S. workers that use their own devices save 81 minutes of time per week.
- Increased Productivity - Beyond even learning to use devices, your employees will work faster on devices they already know how to use, and they may have a more in-depth knowledge of how to use devices and software with greater efficiency. The more familiar they are with the devices they’re using, the faster your employees will get their work done.
- Increased Employee Happiness - Ultimately, using a device you’re not familiar with or don’t believe is the best device for the job can be frustrating. When your employees feel like they’re inhibited by the devices your organization provides, they won’t be satisfied with the work they’re doing.
Risks Associated with BYOD Policies
As with any technology-related decision your company makes, you need to consider the risks associated with the policies you adopt. Though there are numerous benefits to having a BYOD policy, there are plenty of risks that come with letting your employees use their own devices. Here are some common risks you should consider before adopting a company-wide BYOD policy:
- Device Security - When you’re supplying all the devices for your employees to use, it’s easy to control the level of security protecting your sensitive data and systems. On one hand, for your employees to truly be able to use their own devices, they need complete access to all of your organization’s systems. However, you can’t ensure that the appropriate file security measures are in place. What if the device is stolen or left unattended? In those circumstances, an authorized party could easily gain access to your sensitive data.
- Employee Exit Policies - What happens when an employee resigns or is terminated? How do you ensure all sensitive data is totally wiped from their personal device? This is nearly impossible if devices aren’t being returned to your organization when an employee leaves. This could mean former employees (or whoever is using their personal devices) could still have access to your data.
- Device System and Security Updates - Security updates and system updates are essential for maintaining a protected and operationally efficient device. However, when the device is in the possession of your employee, and not under your control, it’s difficult to make sure all updates have been taken care of and completed to your standards.
An overarching problem with BYOD policies is that you simply don’t have enough control over these devices and the access to your secure data via these devices. BYOD policies, if not well thought out, could lead to data breaches and file security compromises. This could put your organization at risk.
Protecting Your Data in a BYOD Environment
Aside from all the benefits and risks, BYOD is basically inevitable. People naturally take their own devices – phones, tablets, laptops – everywhere, and usually without a second thought. So, beyond the benefits and risks listed above, at least considering a BYOD policy is unavoidable.
So, is it impossible to have a BYOD policy and keep your data secure? Fortunately, you can achieve both of these objectives if you have the right tools in place. First, you need a clear-cut policy that is written out and communicated to your employees. When your employees know what is expected of them in terms of device security and BYOD best practices, they’re better able to meet those expectations.
An additional step you should take is to adopt a secure file sharing solution. With the right secure file service, you can control your data from the file end instead of maintaining file security from the device end. Using the right secure file sharing solution, you can manage file access permissions, control how many authentication factors must be used to gain access to your solution, and revoke access as needed. This means you maintain control over your data, while your employees still benefit from a BYOD policy.
How well are you protecting your business? Download this guide on the 20 File Sharing Threats that Could Land Your Company in Hot Water.
About Martin Horan
Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.