January 2, 2014

BYOD: Steps CIOs Should Take to Maintain Security


Hostway Team

lockedthumbdriveA few years ago, CIOs might have dismissed the notion of a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy. Imagine their cries about security and privacy – how can data possibly be protected beyond company firewalls? This year would have stunned them with the growing popularity of just that – employees accessing company intranets on their personal devices.

A recent Gartner survey of CIOs outlines the momentum expected in the BYOD trend within the next few years. By 2016, 38% of the surveyed companies plan to stop providing employees with devices. Taken a step further, Gartner predicts that by 2017 nearly 50% of employers will have a BYOD policy in place.

Is this new movement really any surprise, though, with the growing number of startups, flexibility in employee schedules, and expansion in the global workforce? Traditional work hours are long gone, with the aforementioned factors contributing to why the BYOD trend is accelerating.

Personal devices offer flexibility for employees and decreased expenses for employers. It goes beyond that, though – the assorted pros and cons of the BYOD policy have been widely noted across numerous technology outlets, including PC World. With these in mind, there are a variety of actions CIOs should consider to ensure data privacy is intact.

Increased Password Protection. Any device configured with company emails should have enhanced security measures in place. Reexamining your password requirements and password revision frequency could uncover security vulnerabilities. Requiring a password in order to access any individual device is an absolute must.

Secure File Sharing. Our world demands instant access on the go. Putting a damper on access is a quick way to decrease employee engagement. Fortunately, secure file-sharing services like Box and Cloud Drive offer security in our cloudy world. A central approved SaaS application should be standardized company-wide to assist with storing and sharing documents while still maintaining security.

File Classification System. What can be shared externally and what cannot? Sometimes the lines are a bit unclear. A formal, standard classification and labeling system can quickly help employees with efficiently sharing information with colleagues and customers without inadvertently leaking something confidential.

Data Recovery Process. BYOD brings an interesting challenge to recovering data when employees leave a company. A formal process for accessing and acquiring materials will be necessary, and all employees must agree to these steps.

Device Stipends. One of the BYOD employee drawbacks is a financial gain for employers – no cost associated with device hardware. Stipends based on merit might be a valuable way to maintain employee engagement, while showing good faith in their autonomy. Software discounts from partners are also a rewarding and encouraging way to lessen the financial burden your employees experience due to BYOD.

BYOD doesn’t have to create a security nightmare. Creative solutions that continue to empower employees can sustain the flexibility generated by BYOD while adding a layer of security. Without such processes, BYOD can quickly become the Wild West.

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