Many companies agree in principle with the idea of a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, where employees utilize the same device for both business and personal use. There is much to like about the idea; if employees are using their own devices it saves the company from having to invest in costly hardware, and BYOD is more likely to result in employees knowing how to use their devices effectively, which can boost productivity and workplace efficiency.

There are also some concerns with BYOD, however, particularly in terms of security. The advantages of a mobile, always-on always-connected workforce are hard to overstate, but they are oftentimes overshadowed by the risks inherent in allowing personal devices to access corporate data.

By keeping a few key concepts in mind when implementing a BYOD policy, it is possible to reap the rewards of a BYOD workforce while minimizing the risks to important and sensitive data.

MDM Software

Make sure to have a solid mobile device management (MDM) software solution in place before implementing a BYOD program. MDM software helps manage all of the different devices that are allowed to connect to the network, including verifying the device as well as providing monitoring and access control functionality.

A Clear Policy

It is vital to the success of any BYOD program that the program policies be laid out explicitly and clearly. The policy should include acceptable use guidelines, as well as expectations regarding password security, application ownership and use, and liability. Policy documents should be reviewed and updated regularly and training offered to ensure comprehension and compliance.

Another important aspect of a good BYOD policy is enforcement. Compliance with the policy should be monitored, and consequences of non-compliance need to be clearly defined in advance, communicated to all, and, most importantly, enforced.

Updates and Passwords

One of the most difficult aspects of maintaining hardware in a BYOD environment is keeping devices updated and ensuring that secure passwords are being used. Incentives can be offered for maintaining updated device firmware, or MDM software can be used to force updates to the most recent firmware. Regular mandatory password changes can help keep passwords secure, and two-factor authentication ensures that the user and the device are verified.

How and When to Wipe

A system needs to be in place to wipe lost devices of sensitive data. Tools exist to do this, but it is important to have some sort of employee consent on record to cover the loss of personal data should such a situation arise.

By following the guidelines above, it is possible to get the best of both worlds when it comes to BYOD in the workplace. Secure, mobile access to work data on modern devices provided by and familiar to employees can be a source of strength and competitive advantage for businesses.