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BYOD security in the age of remote work

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

The rise of remote working has thrown a spotlight on bring your own device (BYOD) security issues and challenges. BYOD is more popular now than ever – but with more devices in your business network comes the need to fortify your business protection.

Male tradesman checking his mobile

As a large portion of the workforce moved to working from home overnight – and many continue to do so – your business may have overlooked the need for BYOD security best practices, or to adjust your cyber-security measures for the changing environment. For small and medium businesses, enabling longer-term remote working needs could be vital post-COVID.

Although many of us are commuting far less than before (meaning less work on-the-go), the future could hold entirely new ways of remote working and collaborating. Here, we look at the bring your own device advantages and disadvantages, and why device protection must extend from desktop to mobile and other connected devices to keep your business secure.

The top BYOD benefits

When staff are working on their own devices, one of the biggest BYOD advantages is that staff don’t need to spend time learning how to use them. It’s convenient and empowering for your team to be able to access work-related communication channels on their own smartphone or laptop, especially while they can’t be in the office. And for small and medium businesses, BYOD makes sense financially – it requires less capital investment in technology.

What BYOD risks to look out for

One of the disadvantages of BYOD in the workplace is that because your business might not own the devices your team is using, there are less controls around what each device is used for and what is stored on it – after all, the phones or tablets probably belong to your employees. It also means that if an employee leaves the business, there’s the potential for them to take valuable intellectual property and sensitive business data outside an ecosystem that protects it.

Start with a strong bring your own device policy example

BYOD is not an up and coming trend – your team may have been using their own devices for work long before COVID-19. Having a BYOD policy is a safeguard for both your business and your employees, with the interest of both parties in mind. At its core, some good examples of byod policy requirements include:

  1. Restrict devices
    Be clear which devices staff are allowed to use when it comes to your business. Consider what types of devices your team already uses and what you can effectively monitor with your device management system.
  2. Enforce security
    Enforcing mandatory security programs allows you to remotely wipe devices if you ever need to. This functionality will help protect your sensitive business data and limit opportunities for hackers to infiltrate your systems. Plus, your employees might like to know that remote wiping or deletion software can be programmed to only wipe business data – leaving personal photos, music and contacts untouched.
  3. Stay on top of your privacy requirements
    You must make your team aware if you will be monitoring or tracking their device. Some people might not be comfortable with this, so it’s important that you discuss these privacy issues with your employees early on and keep a record of whether they agree to work within your policies or not.

A few BYOD security best practices

A virtual private network (VPN) is an essential tool for keeping your business data secure and a perfect example of what to consider in your BYOD security policy – especially when your users are performing work tasks from various network connections. VPNs are also affordable and easy to use. For minimal effort, your team can connect securely and access business files safely from just about anywhere. If you want to step up your protection even more, and if you have the means, you could even consider outsourcing your mobile device management. Hiring an expert can give you peace of mind and free you up to focus on other business activities.

The verdict

Allowing employees to use their own preferred devices is one of the main advantages of BYOD in the workplace. And while many businesses were thrust into remote working due to COVID-19, there are many ways you can protect your business and make BYOD work for you. Whether it’s as simple as having work emails on a smartphone, or as complex as being able to upload sensitive client information or revenue forecasts into the cloud, you need some safeguards. These measures shouldn’t inhibit the true aims of BYOD, namely to help staff be more productive, more collaborative and more able to be mobile in their day-to-day work.

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