The Covid pandemic has changed a number of things about the way that we work. Businesses have gone from fully in-office work environments to work-from-home models during the lockdown, to hybrid work models that embrace both remote and in-office environments. And our technologies have had to change with us.
Is remote working really the future? Check out this article that I wrote on the benefits of Hybrid working.
Once upon a time, businesses were run through desktops, with companies needing to provide all of the technology required for an employee to do their job. Headsets, handsets, one screen, two screens, mice, keyboards, wires. The list goes on and on!
While this method worked well when everyone was working from a single office, businesses have quickly learned the importance of having devices that can move around as your team members do. Desktops were swapped with laptops, handsets, and headsets with cellphones or virtual receivers.
And with this shift in devices came a realisation – why not let your team members use their own devices? Rather than having work computers and home computers, why not bring the two together? And thus Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, in workplaces became a popular way of working.
But implementing BYOD at your business isn’t as simple as throwing your hands in the air and declaring that everyone can bring their own devices in and work from them. There are BYOD challenges inherent in having personal laptops and cellphones connecting to your network and servers. This is why most businesses that allow for bringing your own device have BYOD policies in place.
What is a BYOD Policy, and Why Do You Need One?
A BYOD policy helps your business to set permissions and guidelines for the devices that connect to your network. It’s a critical part of identifying and managing to Bring Your Own Device security issues and challenges within a business.
While it would be wonderful if everyone could simply bring their own devices, connect to your servers, and work as they like without the need for rules and regulations, it would pose too much of a risk to your business and data security. With every new device that connects to your network, you are adding a level of risk to the security of your data. One compromised laptop or cellphone could see an attacker gaining access to your critical operations.
BYOD policies help you to maintain a level of order and organisation, making it easier to monitor activity on your network, recognise and avert BYOD challenges, and ensure that no foul play is afoot.
5 Common BYOD Challenges That a Great Policy Should Address
While the benefits of having your teams use their own devices are plentiful – better productivity and greater uptake of technologies, for example – there are five common BYOD challenges that your policy should address:
1. Data Management
The more devices are connecting to your network, the more access you need to allow for from machines that you have no control over, and the more risk your company takes on. Managing critical and sensitive data is a complex and difficult task at the best of times. But when you are managing this data on devices that you control and maintain, the process is significantly easier. There are three main BYOD challenges when it comes to data management:
With regulations like the EU’s GDPR and South Africa’s POPI Act gaining traction and prominence, it’s essential that your BYOD policy covers the storage of your client’s personal information. You need to know how it’s being stored at all times and restrict the transfer of client data onto your employee’s personal devices.
- Handling and Storing of Information
It’s critical to monitor and restrict the data that can be stored and transferred onto personal devices. Making use of cloud services does make this process easier. When your teams have access to the information that they need to do their jobs on cloud facilities, then there’s no need for them to store that data on the devices themselves. That’s what makes using cloud services one of the BYOD security best practices will reduce the risk of data being inadvertently shared or becoming compromised.
- Separation of Personal and Business Data
It’s expected that personal devices are going to be used for your employees own use at home. You can hardly expect them to only use a device for work, unless it’s a device that you’re providing them with. But when your teams are using their own personal machines, it’s all too easy for personal files to become mixed with business ones. This is why it’s important that one of the BYOD challenges your policy should address is having regulations in place for the separation of personal and business data.
2. Physical Damage and Theft
When all of your business computers and technology are being kept under one roof, it’s a lot easier to keep them secure from damage and theft. You can install alarm systems and cameras to monitor your office building and alert you to any attempted break-ins. When you’re using desktops, it’s a lot less likely that a machine is going to be dropped, and spilling a cup of coffee is a far less dangerous accident than it is when you use a laptop.
When your teams are using their own devices, bringing them in and out of the office, and storing them in their own cars and homes, there is significantly more danger of accidents happening and devices either being damaged or stolen.
That’s why it’s important for your team members to agree to certain conditions for transporting and storing their devices. This could include either you as a company or the individual taking out insurance on their devices to ensure that if something does go wrong, they will still be able to carry on as normal as quickly as possible with a replacement device.
You’ll also want to ensure that devices are able to be wiped remotely with a cyber threat protection tool like Microsoft Intune. This will ensure that if a device gets stolen, any data that it contained will remain uncompromised.
3. Removal and Retrieval of Data
When you’re managing your own devices, having an employee leave the company is a relatively easy process. You don’t need to worry (too much) about them leaving with sensitive company information since they’ll be leaving the machine that they worked on behind. But when employees are using their own machines, a team member leaving becomes a more complicated scenario.
Having policies in place for how data is managed will go a long way in the case of offboarding employees since they shouldn’t have any data stored on their devices in any event. However, it’s also important to have policies that specifically address what should happen to information when an employee leaves for cases where sensitive information is stored on their personal machine. While this won’t necessarily stop an employee from taking critical information with them, it will provide you with recourse if that data gets used in any way.
4. Device Control
Device maintenance can be a full-time job. And when your team has full-time jobs of their own to worry about, maintaining their own devices can easily fall by the wayside. That’s why one of the BYOD challenges your policy should address is how your team members manage their devices. In particular, to avoid BYOD security challenges you should have regulations in place that ensure your employees use strong passwords for their devices, regularly install updates and security patches, are careful with the apps that they install, and use VPNs when accessing public Wi-Fi networks.
Training is always an important aspect of running any business. But it’s especially essential when your users are bringing their own devices into the workplace since any vulnerabilities on their machines can, in turn, impact your network security. Making sure that your team members know how to recognise and deal with phishing mails, for example, will reduce the risk of them falling victim to cyber attacks and allowing an attacker access to your company’s sensitive data. Training can also form an essential part of device control by ensuring that your teams understand the importance of password security and why performing updates and installing patches is so important. There’s a difference, after all, between telling a person that they must perform an action, and explaining why that action is so critical.
How Solid Systems Can Help You Address BYOD Challenges
Taking care of your business technology and ensuring that your teams are as productive and efficient as possible is all part of what we do at Solid Systems. We are more than just your average IT Support and Managed IT Services provider. We go above and beyond to ensure that your business is safe and secure and that your teams are connected, to your business and to each other, in all the right ways.
Let us help you with all the BYOD challenges that you may face. Chat to us today and let’s help you step confidently into the future.