Today, devices like smartphones, laptops, and iPads empower people to be their most productive selves. They can answer e-mails BYOD in the board roomfrom a train or the doctor’s office. Take a client meeting at a local cafe. Skype into an editorial brainstorm from an airport lounge.

As a result, employees are bringing their own devices to work, and at face value, everybody wins. Employees have the tools to get more done; companies save money and boost efficiency.

“BYOD (bring your own device) is the reality of today’s marketplace,” explains Gavin Kim of NQ Mobile. Analyst firm Ovum found that 57 percent of full-time employees around the world are already using their personal phones at work in some capacity.

The only problem: These devices can expose your company to a major security vulnerability. So what’s the solution?

Invest in an enterprise-wide policy

“Any device that accesses proprietary company data that is not under strict control introduces the potential for data leaks,” explains Robert Lundahl, marketing manager at Nunspire Networks.

Devices can get lost or stolen. Team members may accidentally or inadvertently share proprietary data. Devices could get hacked via public Wi-Fi.

Companies need to invest time and thought into crafting an intelligent BYOD policy that minimizes risk without crippling employee productivity.

“Without a BYOD policy, employees are free to access the company network with a number of devices that could be un-secure and pose a risk to sensitive data,” explains Lundahl.

Place an emphasis on education

Employees use their devices with the best of intentions. They’re thinking about getting things done, not security risks.

“Start with education,” recommends Lundahl. “Employees should know what is acceptable and what is not while on the job. Then focus on processes and policies.”

That means giving employees enough support to prevent problems before they happen.

“Expecting employees to understand what risks there are and how to mitigate those risks independent of a formal policy is asking for trouble,” says Lundahl.

Stay flexible

At the end of the day, technological advances are healthy for your company. Employee-owned devices have the potential to move your business forward.

“Banning devices is the most secure option, but it’s better to embrace technological advances than shut them out,” says Reuben Yonatan, founder & CEO at GetVoIP.

Also, make sure your policy is easy to follow and understand.

“The less employees have to think about and manage, the better,” says Yonatan.