Nielsen’s recent research study on smartphone penetration reveals that 61 percent of cellphones in the U.S. are smartphones. With a smartphone in the majority’s pocket, there’s a good chance at least some of your employees are using theirs during work hours. This brings a number of troubling questions to light. Security issues abound with personal mobile devices, whether or not you allow the employees to access the network.
Arconis found that more than 80 percent of employees aren’t aware of the threats to their personal devices, or the issues that using a personal device on a business network brings to their employer. If an employee device is not properly protected with anti-virus software and connects to the company network, it’s possible for viruses to attack. Training employees in the best practices of mobile security helps mitigate this problem. Create awareness to help protect the company. Another way to help avoid these issues is through mobile device management. These applications allow system administrators to monitor and manage the devices on the business network, heading off any problems as they may occur. Some MDM applications, such as the one offered by BlackBerry, also provide virtualization features so the work functions take place on apps and virtual desktops entirely separate from the main device. Blackberry’s MDM solution also covers cross-platform devices so you can offer a BYOD plan that will fit any employee’s wants or needs.
It’s not simply viruses you need to worry about when employees bring their devices into the workplace. Wired reports that many legal issues stem from BYOD. If you suspect that an employee is taking pictures of prototype products, you may want to go through the phone’s gallery and the user’s personal data to determine whether or not they took unauthorized photos. However, this may run afoul of privacy laws in your area, opening you up to a major lawsuit. Consult with a lawyer about the risks and liability that surround personal device usage before taking that type of action against an employee. You should then set up a all-encompassing contract that all employees need to agree to and sign before participating in your BYOD program.
Some employees may want to sell off trade secrets, leak product announcements, and otherwise damage your business — especially if they are let go. In the past, this was made more difficult by having to sneak in cameras or thumb drives. These days, a smartphone can instantly upload a picture to social networks or cloud storage, giving you limited ways to deal with the problem. Keep strict policies in place over what happens in the event of data theft, whether you wish to include them in with BYOD policies or as part of your overall work environment policies. Make sure these rules apply if a device is lost or stolen as well. For high security areas, have smartphone checks where you hold all smartphones before someone enters the area.