By Greg Hoffer, Vice President of Engineering, Globalscape

For many in the workforce, carrying two or more smart and/or mobile devices at all times has become the norm. As a result, the ‘bring your own device’ or BYOD trend within the office is fairly commonplace, especially within companies looking to save on costs and increase mobility for its remote employees. According to Gartner, by 2017, 38 percent of organisations will stop providing devices to workers and fully embrace BYOD.

It comes as no surprise that companies are accepting this trend (willingly or by overwhelming pressure from its workforce), allowing employees to use their own mobile devices in a professional capacity. Companies that adopt BYOD will need to address overarching security concerns and ensure the appropriate tools are implemented that protect both individuals and the larger organisation.

BYOD does blur the lines between business and personal resources, but in fact implementing BYOD policies can be a good first step in creating a productive and secure environment. As with traditional office environments, staff will find ways to conveniently and efficiently complete projects even if that means using unapproved software, apps or security tools. Without policies and approved technologies in place, organisations put themselves at serious risk of data breaches or cyberattacks.

Making the most of BYOD is not as complex as it might seem but it’s important to consider the following tips when properly securing the enterprise and protecting employees from cyberthreats or data leaks:

1. Ensure employee mobile devices are secure

BYOD puts a lot of trust in the hands of your employees, so rolling out a BYOD policy, which outlines best practices and compliance requirements, is essential to reducing risk. In addition, organisations should set restrictions on which types of devices, operating systems and other tools are permissible for use at work and on the corporate network via a mobile device. Within this policy, organisation will also have to define requirements for using antivirus software, establishing strong passwords and how to enforce protocols.

2. Implement safe mobile file sharing technology

There are multiple points of entry when files are transferred from one device to another, especially if an organisation or an individual is using consumer-grade cloud services or applications. When putting together BYOD policies, companies should look at providing mobile application management software and clearly define applications that are approved to manage file sharing through a single point of entry. Any mobile management platform or file transfer technology should complement an organisation's existing security measures.

3. Use tools which provide IT with full visibility of data

Along with clarifying data ownership early and often, IT will need to recommend and implement tools that provide full transparency of how and when company data is being access, shared and managed through an employee’s personal devices. Any application or tool used to enable remote or mobile workers still needs to have an easy-to-use features and a user-friendly interface. Similar to approved software recommended for brick-and-mortar work environments, if employees find these tools complex and rigid, they tend to utilise alternatives that might leave a company open to risk. IT should also prepare an exit strategy, which can manage or delete sensitive or proprietary data on a mobile device once an employee leaves an organisation.

At the end of the day, BYOD empowers employees to work in an agile and effective manner and maximises an organisation's overall performance. Secure mobility in an enterprise environment is achievable by minimising many of the security risks early on. By clearly laying out BYOD policies, providing safe mobile file sharing solutions, implementing tools which provide IT with full visibility of corporate data at rest or in motion will help to keep employees’ mobile devices secure and minimise risk.