BYOD is becoming increasingly important for small businesses. Not so much BYOB.
BYOD, or “bring your own device,” has become standard procedure for small businesses now that smartphones, tablets and laptops have, for all intents and purposes, become extensions of ourselves. When was the last time you left home or the office without a mobile device handy?
Allowing employees to bring their own devices can do a number of beneficial things for entrepreneurs. It can cut business startup costs related to equipment expenses, but it also has the potential to expose vulnerabilities in a business’ tech infrastructure.
“BYOD is a tricky subject for organizations,” said David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, which investigated BYOD use at small businesses. “Allowing employees the opportunity to use their own devices in the workplace can lead to enhanced productivity and creativity, but can also bring increased risk.”
According to Kaspersky Lab, 33 percent of surveyed businesses allow staff unrestricted accessto company resources from their own smartphones, tablets or laptops, Thirty-eight percent have some kind of restrictions, and 19 percent have an outright ban.
Income.com advises that small-business owners do not prohibit BYOD completely and ignore agrowing trend in technology and small business. However, entrepreneurs will certainly have to take precautionary steps to ensure the safety of company data and proper use. You’ll have to develop standards and expectations for use, encourage responsible BYOD and protect vulnerabilities.
Develop a policy
The right way to go about BYOD isn’t allowing free-range use, but it also isn’t bringing the hammer down on personal device use. To make BYOD work for your small business, you’ll have to formulate a comprehensive plan that clearly lays out what you expect responsible BYOD use entails.
Tell employees what they can access and what they cannot access. For instance, email could be used on a smartphone, but bringing up client records on a tablet may cross the line. Consider drafting an agreement on acceptable use for employees. It creates a set of standards and expectations that all will have knowledge of and can be enforced across all levels of BYOD.
Don’t get too regulation happy. BYOD works because of the freedom employees and you are allowed. The ability to access documents remotely, collaborate and communicate at will and reduce business equipment expenses all make BYOD worth pursuing, so try your best to not restrict that inherent value.
Shore up security
A large part of a responsible BYOD policy is covering all the bases in case a fault in the policy, security system or employee use results in a data leak or breach.
First, determine which devices are allowed access to company resources. You can do this by fingerprinting devices so your system can distinguish between a friendly user and an unauthorized one. Also, create a list of employees authorized to remotely access information from their device. This allows you to know who checks what and when, providing a crucial log of activity that can always be referred back to.
Applications that users run on devices can provide a gateway for malware to enter your system, so it is also in your best interests to monitor application use and clearly identify ones safe for BYOD.
Income.com sees BYOD as a huge opportunity for small businesses to launch into the technosphere while also creating new ways for employee engagement and cost savings. However, at the same time it can hurt businesses in that substandard BYOD policies don’t encourage responsible use or data protection. Time to get with the times and realize BYOD is becoming integral to the way small businesses work. Create a set policy with rules and definitions, monitor who checks what and solidify your security measures.