Increasingly employees now use their own devices, such as personal laptops and mobile phones, for work. This is especially common in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who want to save money by utilising the IT their workforce already have, rather than investing in company laptops and mobiles. Moreover, companies want to be flexible in the way that their staff work. What are the risks of this approach and how can you manage them?
If your employees are using their personal devices for work, how can you be sure that your files are secure? Your employees must have the latest anti-virus software to protect you. If it’s a personal laptop, it’s more difficult to protect data as you can’t limit what else they use their laptop for – that could be gambling, porn or movie streaming, where they are far more likely to encounter malicious content. Web protection therefore is also advised to protect the laptop from dangerous material.
With personal devices you also need to ensure that when an employee leaves that you physically sign them out of things like the cloud and even social media (e.g. You can change the password on Twitter but unless they log off they will still be able to access the company’s account on their mobile phone). With emails and documents in Office 365, combined with User Rights Management you can ensure your data is secure wherever it is taken. You can also quickly and easily restrict user access as needs must.
Fit for Purpose
Devices bought by employees are built for home use and usually aren’t suitable for business use. We have had one client who has had to replace the operating system of their PCs from ‘home’ to ‘pro’ as it prevented them from logging onto their domain – vital for file sharing and server connections. Printers that are fine for home use can be very unsuitable for business use, in terms of durability and cost of the ink. It is therefore worth checking the specifications of the equipment that will be used to ensure that it doesn’t cost you more than supplying the equipment yourself.
People, particularly departing employees, will sometimes try and steal your data, whether it’s your client base or a high value business deal. This is far easier to prevent if the device is owned by the company. There is very little you can do if it is a personal laptop or phone as you cannot strip that of data. You therefore need to consider the saving on using employees’ equipment against the risks to the business. Some sectors are higher risk than others, such as recruitment and other agency type work.
Changing face of Business
However it cannot be denied that businesses are utilising and incorporating BYOD in the workplace, no matter the disadvantages. How many of you use your phone for business?
The secure connection to the workplace through Microsoft’s Windows 10 is looking to benefit businesses which their stringent controls, coupled with the security of Office 365. This improves the viability of BYOD going forward.
It is important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of a BYOD policy as the risks and costs will depend on the business you’re in. In the longer term we find that it is often cheaper to supply the equipment yourself and much safer!
By Andy Hinxman, Director of Keybridge IT