One question we are getting lately from many customers lately is how to manage the influx of employees' devices that can connect to the corporate network. We call this phenomenon BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device. The device can be a smartphone such as an iPhone or Android, a tablet like the iPad, or even a home PC or laptop. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, small businesses have in the last few years, outpaced big companies in letting employees use personal devices - laptops, tablets, cellphones etc. on the job. After all, the cost is lower if you don't have to buy the user a new system and the workers are more comfortable with the equipment.
The bottom line is that once you let your employees connect their devices to your network, you put yourself at some level of risk. There are myriad technical and security issues that small business owners must be prepared for.
The benefits can seem significant because you can lower your hardware costs, but the risks that come from the loss of control can be significant. Once it’s not a corporate owned device you lose the ability to control access to the information that’s on the device. If the device is lost or the employee is terminated, you may not have the legal right to remotely wipe any corporate information. Many lost smartphones are not protected with even the basic mobile security features such as a lock code.
Confidential or proprietary information is another potential risk. If the information is on a personal device it makes it a lot easier for that info to go with the employee if they leave or are terminated.
Another issue is that of viruses and malware. when someone plugs their personal laptop into your business network, you are taking a chance that they have up to date virus protection, that they are actively scanning their systems, and that they haven't inadvertently downloaded some malware that can impact your network and your productivity.
So what is the answer? As the IT department for our clients, our goal is to minimize any risk that can detrimentally impact our clients' businesses. But this goes further than just managing technology, there is an HR impact here as well. It’s your employees' devices, but it’s your data and you need to protect it. Start by clearly defining your BYOD policy and make sure all your employees agree to it if they want to use their own devices.
At Vantage Point Solutions Group, we help our clients define a BYOD policy and help them to make sure it fits in with their overall employee and technology policies. As the IT Department, it’s our job to help you minimize the risk associated with technology while remaining as productive as possible. BYOD is a risk, and if you ignore it, something will go away. That something could be your business.
I welcome your feedback on this topic, on anything tech related or on how we are doing in helping your organization. All types of service stories are welcome as they will continue to improve the Vantage Point Solutions Group team and help us to better help you.