There is a new revolution in the tech industry, especially in startups, where employees are allowed (and sometimes encouraged) to bring their devices to work with them. This strategy is progressive and can save a company on hardware costs. Smaller startups are especially vulnerable to these costs as they bring in new hires who demand top of the line hardware.
But the dangers of the BYOD policy may outweigh the benefits. Security risks, info snooping and data loss are just some of the possible outcomes. Before you institute a policy, study the issue and make an informed decision.
A viral infection striking your network could lock up terminals and hamper productivity. Users might download a malicious email attachment, or bring the infection with them through files on their own device. Network security solutions that check email in real-time and monitor browsing habits will protect a corporate network internally. In some cases, a VPN to monitor and restrict browsing habits could provide an added layer of security.
Asking employees to have antivirus installed is a must, but standard coverage, like what you’d get from a free site, isn’t what you need here. What you need is software that can cover your entire network with “Network-wide monitoring powered by custom sandboxing and relevant real-time intelligence.” This is security that can simultaneously detect a threat and thwart it in real-time while re-programming the software to recognize similar attacks in the future.
Devices running an older operating system may not be compatible with the applications your business needs. Microsoft is warning users that support for Windows XP is ending on April 8, 2014. That means that applications moving forward no longer need to have XP as part of their design philosophy. Not every business relies on cutting edge technology, but you should set standards of devices employees are allowed to work with. Decide on the format you find acceptable and set everyone to the same standards. You can offer some reimbursement for the costs of software and deduct that as an expense.
Data Intensive Applications
Employees who report satisfaction with bringing their own device report that it can be as important, if not more important than a cup of coffee in the morning. This comfort zone can make it easy to slip into habits formed at home, like usage of Pandora and other data intensive applications on the web. That load of traffic could cause a strain on bandwidth that may affect call volume or important downloads.
If you allow employees to listen to music on the job, encourage them to do so from their own storage. A smartphone or external hard drive full of music is better than straining the network.
Info snooping is the new hot topic in tech news. Stealing passwords and other personal credentials en masse, but users don’t often think about the traffic they transmit over their own networks. The same goes for corporate VPNs, where user devices might suddenly find themselves under scrutiny from corporate IT. Users might find themselves surprised to learn that things like their web searches and social networking time might be logged by their bosses.
It’s important for any company with a user device policy to be upfront with workers about what is being monitored. Employees need to have a line between work and play, for their safety and yours.
Bringing a device to work also enables employees to work from home. You might have a cloud backup solution for data on your devices, but do your users backup their own work? There are plenty of cloud storage applications available around the Web for a minimal cost, and Google Apps accounts are useful for file transfers between employees. Microsoft’s SkyDrive is another solution, but the free options are limited and normally not for commercial use.
Create one unified backup solution, like a NAS server, where employees can remotely log in and retrieve information they need.