Allowing your employees to BYOD – “bring your own device” – is a cybersecurity concern, but you don’t have to let it keep your company from a secure cyberenvironment. Once you understand the benefits of implementing BYOD, you’ll be less hesitant to let your employees use their hardware to run company software.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to smooth over the tension between your employees’ BYOD desires like unrestricted access and your company’s cybersecurity needs, which are typically at odds with free-roaming device usage.
The two biggest factors we’ll discuss are employee education and smart policymaking, both of which rely on your tier of the company to do what you do best: take the lead.
Teach Your Employees About Cybersecurity
If we’re talking BYOD, we’re typically talking about smartphones. Your employees take their smartphones with them everywhere they go, and they’re amenable to mixing business with pleasure so long as the business portion doesn’t interfere with the operations of the device’s other uses. Therein lies the problem.
Smartphones, while the primary target of most BYOD initiatives, are also the biggest vectors for data leakage or loss, representing almost 70% of cases according to a cybersecurity trends report.
If you want to prevent your organization from leaking data through every personal device’s sieve, you’ll need to control certain aspects of your employee's devices.
Imposing control on employee devices is bound to make your employees unhappy, so you’ll have to use a lighter touch than a software-based lockdown. We’ll explain how to develop and implement a formal BYOD policy a bit later in the article, but first, we want you to realize the importance of changing your employees’ perspectives if you’re going to have a successful BYOD policy while maintaining security
Your employees are more likely to implement reasonable BYOD practices if they understand the consequences of cybersecurity on the rest of the organization. BYOD can carry a risk to your employees, which you should be forthcoming about during your educational discussions.
The trick to BYOD is educating your employees that BYOD is a way for their device to peek into the larger corporate system upon which the entire organization relies. The scope of the peek—be it a keyhole or a cinema-screen—is directly linked to their ability to get the things done efficiently, while maintaining the security of the company’s data and the integrity of their device.
Depending on your industry, your educational regimen may be more technical, or more oriented toward non-specialists. Try not to throw the tech talk at the people who aren’t going to be interested in hearing about the technical detail. Instead, offer a few examples of good BYOD practices, a few examples of bad BYOD practices, and then showcase your company’s BYOD policy.
When showing examples, it’s important to link user behaviors to larger consequences. People respond best to realistic examples, so avoid scare tactics. Not every data breach caused by a BYOD-centric mishap is going to bring down the entire company, but be sure that everyone knows it’s a remote possibility.
By creating a workforce of informally savvy cybersecurity employees, you’ll be adding value to your employees’ skill set and providing them with tools to be vigilant while using their devices.
Create A Smart BYOD Policy
Now that we know the solution to BYOD issues is an explicit BYOD policy and an informal, yet detailed educational program for your employees, what are the concrete steps your company can take to put the wheels in motion?
First, resolve to follow through on making an explicit BYOD policy and talking through it with your employees who need it most. Don’t be like the majority of companies who leave BYOD policies to the realm of the informal or the socially-enforced, yet unencoded. You should pair good BYOD practices by your employees with rewards, and poor practices with mild consequences.
The better you craft your company’s BYOD policy
, the more likely your employees are to follow it, and the more likely your company is to retain a strong cybersecurity perimeter. Remember, a policy is only effective if people are motivated and capable of following.
Draconian BYOD policies, while perhaps appealing to larger organizations, will result in more unhappy employees and higher turnover, hurting your bottom line. There’s no reason to let something that’s supposed to be a money-saver like BYOD become a point of loss.
Software as a Cybersecurity Solution
There are some ways that you can incorporate useful software into your BYOD policy for the betterment of your company. Software that can act as a soft barrier between your user’s device and your company’s important data, without getting in the way of the user’s job, is exactly what you should be looking for.
It may seem foolish to introduce an additional step in the already-complicated cybersecurity process, but using an app that’s designed to smooth the BYOD cybersecurity dilemma as part of your BYOD policy is a large step forward relative to trying to go at it alone.
By introducing a layer of protection, your employees can rest assured their device will stay safe and also stay useful in the course of their work. Even more importantly, you won’t have to worry about data breaches or malware infections slipping into your corporate network as a result of a permissive BYOD policy.
The trick is that an intermediary between your employees and your data lets your employees retain full control of their devices, while allowing your company to maintain full control of its internal perimeter. Your IT team will thank you, as will your BYOD users.