Are You Down With BYOD?

Business students in a restaurant

Spending massive sums of money buying items that are probably already in your employees’ pockets is just a waste. Many businesses are making a smart move that saves money while making employees happier: enacting BYOD (‘Bring Your Own Device’) policies to make use of the devices employees already have. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Gartner predicts that by 2016, 38 percent of employers will stop providing Employees With Portable Devices in favor of BYOD. By 2017, half of all companies will require that employees bring their own devices to use at work. While BYOD is a smart move, it needs to be implemented properly to make it work well. Planning can help avoid messy security and productivity-loss issues. As your organization adopts BYOD, avoid common pitfalls with these smart solutions.

Problem 1 – Failing to Account for Apps

Many apps commonly installed on phones and tablets request broad access that can present serious security risks. Others leave your network open to malicious software and viruses. In a study reported by Forbes last year of 13,500 popular free apps, 41 were found that could leak sensitive data. While the study did not identify the apps at fault, it reported that information ranging from financial data to access to IP cameras was available. To be safe, only allow employees to download apps with proper SSL implementation on devices used for business.

In still other cases, hours of productivity can be lost to addictive games, such as Candy Crush, played on handheld devices. Analysts with The Atlantic once estimated $1.5 billion in productivity was lost to the popular game Angry Birds.

Solution 1 – Have a List of Approved Apps for Devices Used On-Site

Enterprises can manage both security threats and productivity drains by making clear and succinct rules about allowed apps. Some organizations create a white list of apps employees are allowed to use. Others use BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) profile management tools, such as those offered by BlackBerry, to allow workers to switch between work and personal profiles. That way, work-related apps can be easily managed.

While the list of useful apps will be different for each organization, there are a number that have wide utility. DropBox allows workers to quickly and easily share files with one another. Google Drive and Basecamp are both great for collaboration. Your associates in sales can keep track of contacts with prospects with an app such as Contactually.

Problem 2 – Not Setting Rules for Devices Allowed on the Network

It seems that a new smartphone comes out every month. To make things even more difficult, there are an even larger number of OS choices being created every day.

Solution 2 – Create Clear Regulations

It would be impossible to test every single device on the market to ensure compatibility and security. But, there are some common sense rules that can save a lot of headaches in the long run. Allow only devices with factory-set operating systems to avoid potential headaches. No rooted or jailbroken devices should be allowed on the network. Have each device looked over by IT to make sure it’s safe from the start.

Problem 3 – Inadequate Security

Some enterprises rush to implementation, leaving themselves open to all sorts of security threats.

Solution 3 – Have a Strong, Enforceable Policy from the Start

From the beginning, have clear policies regarding passwords on devices. Left in the hands of employees, the risk of weak, easily breakable passwords is too great. Maintain user profiles for all employees with strict and consistent access rights that can control which person and which device have access to your network and data. And do regular checkups on devices to make sure your business is safe.