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Bring your own device (BYOD) has taken over the modern-day workplace. The policy — which involves allowing employees to bring their own personal computers and other devices into work — has picked up steam as employers realize the benefits that it can bring.
- Increased employee productivity, as employees are more familiar with their own devices
- Personal devices are usually more up-to-date (like the Zain iPhone X) than those given out by companies
- Reduced costs for smaller companies since they don’t have to provide employees with all devices
- Employees are more flexible and productive as they can use their own electronics and work anywhere and even outside office hours
- Employees are provided a company-sponsored data allowance when they are out of the office (some companies even pay an agreed upon price for the personal device in installments)
- Employees have a personal stake in securing their information
However, many employers are also concerned (and rightly so) about security issues, as having inadequately secured personal devices on your network is an easy way to experience data breaches.
That being said, your company’s security and BYOD policy can co-exist, here are four steps to improve BYOD security in your business.
1. Study both the benefits and the risks that BYOD presents.
Instead of merely banning personal devices in the workplace, it is essential for your firm to recognize both the benefits and risks of BYOD for your particular business. Form a committee that can map out these benefits and risks, and can help create a strategic BYOD policy.
Chances are, employees have already been connecting their cell phones to your business Wi-Fi during the day (it means less usage of their own data!). So, before you implement BYOD, first install a separate Wi-Fi network intended solely for personal mobile devices. This way, you will also be able to fully maximize the business benefits of Wi-Fi calling.
2. Evaluate and implement IT security solutions.
Next, if you don’t have your own IT department yet, it is time to evaluate the IT partners who will help you implement your BYOD program. This team will be tasked to install security measures and policies that will guarantee your network and employee devices are safely guarded without negatively impacting operations.
These experts are responsible for remaining up-to-date on the trends and solutions associated with BYOD practices. They will work with your business to identify a program that works for you.
When evaluating solutions, make sure to consider their impact on your existing network and how you can enhance your current technologies.
If possible, you want to evaluate and implement an IT security solution before instigating a BYOD policy. It is far more onerous to perform changes when employees are already using their personal devices at work.
3. Educate employees and ensure they have implemented the solutions.
While information security remains a core IT responsibility, all employees need to understand that an excellent security product is required to protect each device. Most of the time, BYOD security breaches occur by mistake.
An employee may be unaware of the fact that they have a virus on their personal device, so when they connect to your firm’s network, it then gets accidentally circulated to other computers, culminating in a conceivably extensive security breach.
Even when you have implemented security systems, you must continuously be educating your employees about proper device safety. Give them tips and tricks for recognizing apps or sites that could include malware. Distribute security threat updates. Implement best practices on device security, such as enabling automatic updates for all devices.
Last but not least, require employees to utilize passwords to guard their computer access. Despite it being the first level of protection against computer or cell-phone theft, most people opt to disregard it.
Remind employees that the reason you have an IT security and solution team is that they know what they are doing when it comes to device security. Advise them to ask your IT security team any questions or concerns they may have at any point.
4. Create a thorough policy for employee devices.
To have powerful BYOD security, your firm must have first created a robust BYOD policy. It should include the purposes of the BYOD program, who can use their own devices and which devices will be approved, and the access levels that workers will be given when handling their personal devices.
Before you give the go-ahead for a BYOD policy to come into effect, make sure that your committee has created a thorough plan to be executed. This policy should include items such as:
- All employees operating systems and software must be kept up to date, as newer versions are usually updated to protect users from brand new threats.
- Jailbroken phones are not allowed, as they are unable to update their operating systems.
- Data must be backed up regularly (say, once a week). Having a location onsite to store backups can make this procedure a lot easier to implement.
- A plan for recovery procedures in case an employee’s device is lost, stolen or broken.
- All devices must be tracked in a device locator and remote data wipe service, allowing the IT security team to locate lost devices efficiently and remotely wipe data off stolen devices.
As long as you follow these steps and are diligent in your quest for IT security, a BYOD policy will not only bring your firm all of the benefits the arrangement can bring, but will also carry your operations through 2018, and beyond.
Azhar Abulhamayel is the Head of Marketing – National Segment and High Value at Zain KSA. The company was the first operator in the Middle East to commercially launch the 4G/LTE network. Zain serves +10M customers, has extended its network coverage to 94% of the population, and attracts thousands of new customers daily.