A new revolution is happening these days at the office: organizations are bringing non-company IT in the workplace. A great percentage of employees are having to bring in their own devices (BYOD), to include laptops, tablets, and smart phones, to do their jobs. This is all possible thanks to the rise of cloud hosting.
The use of employee-owned devices is rapidly becoming a growing trend as it gives staff the freedom to access the company’s networks and systems from anywhere, at any time.
Being able to connect to corporate resources, when outside the office, while either commuting or needing to work from home, saves time and money for employees.
It also saves the company a lot of money (the cost of issuing mobile devices to all or selected individuals and needing to pay the monthly data service charges) and eliminates much of the need for technical support.
In companies where BYOD policies are in place, key findings indicate that employees using their own personal mobile technology at work reach higher levels of job satisfaction. Their productivity is also boosted as it enables them to decide how and when job tasks will be done. Cloud hosting of company’s applications allows them to access resources anytime it is necessary.
From an enterprise point of view, BYOD brings real business value at a reduced cost and, usually, triggers faster response times from employees. Yet, there are also some cons: BYOD can create security risks if personal mobile devices, applications and data are not secure. BYOD is susceptible to being exploited by a malicious hacker that can exploit less secure employee-owned hardware to attack the company network.
This is definitely a legitimate concern for companies contemplating BYOD adoption. A host of data protection and compliance challenges needs to be addressed with data-related regulations. However, much of the problem can be overcome with a business educating its employees about best security practices for BYODs. An employer, for instance, can enforce all employee-owned devices to have up-to-date antivirus software and security patches. This is the initial step to decrease risks of sensitive data falling in the wrong hands.
Furthermore, the following tips might truly benefit those businesses that want to implement a successful BYOD program and embrace some of its benefits:
• Start off by taking a proactive stance and define a clear BYOD strategy. Begin by developing enforceable regulations to accommodate the new devices. This can help to ensure compliance.
• Address the risks of BYOD and then define specific policies to overcome them. They will include the security and data management practices which are considered necessary. Employees need to be briefed on the harm that is done if BYODs are lost or hacked and the repercussions of compromising sensitive data.
• Provide restrictions (to specific people) and access controls (to use certain applications or retrieve classified data). This establishes the conditions for gaining access to company’s data through cloud hosting and sets the standards of conduct. It also enables those with legitimate access to interact with company files, databases and servers safely, while protecting the data themselves.
• Implement security solutions that will work whatever the employee-owned device and operating system. Use simple security measures like multi-factor authentication and secure connections like SSL VPNs.
• Prepare for the worst. Always have a security strategy ready in case of data loss or network failure.
BYOD can be an excellent way to improve employees’ work conditions and cut costs. Implementing a few policies and security procedures, businesses can control security and embrace BYOD all within regulatory compliance and safeguarding data privacy.
About the Author: Kate Bingham is a Business Transformation Specialist offering business advice for the past 10 years in the cloud hosting industry.
License: Creative Commons image source