BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) adoption has been on a growth spiral for several years now. According to a Tech Pro Research study, nearly 74% of organizations allow their employees to use their devices for work purposes or are in the process of drafting in such policies. This is with good reason – BYOD increases job satisfaction, improves productivity and makes employees reachable from anywhere and at any time.
Such a policy is however fraught with too many risks and challenges. The first issue is definitely that of security. With BYOD, the onus is on the employees to keep their devices secure and hack-proof. While businesses may issue guidelines and educate their workforce on the need for cybersecurity, it is nearly impossible to ensure total compliance.
There are compliance issues to take care of. Consider the health care sector for instance. Regulations like HIPAA require health organizations to completely encrypt patient details and also have the ability to control and manage employee devices so that confidential data may be remotely deleted in case of device theft.
For enterprise businesses, BYOD also means the inability to ensure uniformity with respect to software versions and privacy controls among the various employee devices. Imagine a scenario where thousands of employees use different software tools and versions to access company spreadsheets. It is difficult to ensure that documents created on one device will work on the others.
Cloud To The Rescue
One of the most efficient ways to fix your various BYOD related issues is by moving all your data and processes to the cloud. Cloud-hosted services ensure uniformity in data access. There are no issues with software versions since all employees access tools from essentially the same server. Also, in case of device theft, securing data is as simple as revoking login access to specific users whose devices were stolen.
Moving to the cloud is however not as straight-forward as making DropBox or Google Drive mandatory.
Use a DNS Firewall: The biggest security threat from BYOD arises from unsecured internet access. Employees working over a free WiFi hotspot leave their devices susceptible to hacking. Businesses may, however, protect critical business data by making it mandatory for employees to access company data solely through a DNS firewall. By restricting data access to requests coming from specific DNS servers, it is possible to protect your business data even when it is accessed from unsecured hotspots.
Deploy Centralized Document Management: While moving software and storage to the cloud may be one part of the solution, it may be difficult to enforce this policy in a business with thousands of employees. For instance, even if your company, as a policy, is going to recommend Office 360 for cloud document processing, users who are comfortable with desktop software are likely to continue using these tools for creating documents. This creates a trail of multiple versions. The solution is not with enforcing a software tool, but instead with mandating a document management tool. Such tools help aggregate documents created from multiple versions of software and also ensure compliance issues and are thus a better way to create a consistent document management process.
Create a Permissible List of Devices: If your business works on proprietary software that cannot be migrated to the cloud, then one of the best workarounds is to implement a restricted BYOD policy. Such a policy essentially allows employees to choose from a pre-approved list of devices. This way, businesses may test these devices for software compatibility and ensure consistent user experience among all employees.
While BYOD is not without its set of challenges, it is still the future of business. It is the responsibility of business organizations to device policies and deploy technology that can keep their networks secure while providing employees with a work environment they want.