remote workers

Implementing Cloud-Based BYOD Policies Safely

Implementing Cloud-Based BYOD Policies Safely 150 150 Kerry Butters

BYOD adoption is on the rise in SMEs. Cloud based services have opened up businesses to the world of bring-your-own-device, allowing SME business managers to save internal spending by encouraging employees to use their own laptops, phones and tablets.

However, these devices are often only intended for personal use, not commercial. This means that they can be ill-suited to the security needs of your company and you may end up spending the money you thought you were saving on implementing new security for these phones. There are still plenty of benefits to a BYOD environment however, so the best thing we can suggest is that you familiarise yourself with the potential downfalls of a BYOD office and plan for it appropriately.

Increased Threats

Some SMEs have been struggling with the new threats presented by a BYOD environment, so it’s important to ensure that if you do adopt BYOD you have the security infrastructure to cope with it.

Using unofficial, personal technology can expose businesses to viruses of all types, especially when it comes to Android devices. If an employee makes ill-advised browsing decisions on their own time, or downloads a dodgy app, but is still networked to your business, this can have an impact on their workspace and beyond.

You can’t neglect security on personal devices. If anything you need to increase it. Personal devices will be exposed to public Wi-Fi, non-secure websites and various other threats. You should also consider the possibility of a device going missing outside of the office, and the implications of that if a device contains sensitive information.

Loss of Professionalism

There’s been a lot made of the fact that smartphones bring the office home with you, but the reverse can also be said. If someone is using his or her device for both personal and business purposes then it’s likely that at some point one world will bleed into the other.

That’s why a lot of SME’s are looking into cloud-based mobile device management software for personal devices. MDMs ensure that even though a device is used for both personal and business purposes, there is a clear divide between the two worlds. This acts as a constant reminder to the user that they should remain professional when logged into the business elements of their device.

Data Loss

Remote workers and BYOD employees may sometimes, either by no fault of their own or user error, delete important files from their device. I once had a colleague who accidentally deleted an entire years work of important documents that sent the department into a panic until IT managed to restore said files. We were fortunate that there had been a recent backup of our information that we could use. This is not always immediately possible within a BYOD office. Whilst services such as Dropbox and OneDrive provide you with cloud backup, these are not always ideally suited for corporate use. That’s why you might want to consider implementing a cloud-based MDM system or some similar system that regularly backs up remote devices and stores copies in a secure, centralised location.

Lost Devices

People can be more careless with devices which they consider to be theirs, which can in turn lead to important documents making their way into the public sphere when a device is misplaced. That’s why it’s imperative that any BYOD solution your company settles on should include the option to manually erase specific files from a secure, centralised location as long as the device is connected to the internet.

Correct Implementation is Key

A good network security solution should be easy to implement, simple to use and be flexible enough to work on multiple platforms and OS’s. There are a number of businesses available who specialise in implementing cloud-based networks that will complement a BYOD device strategy without compromising the security of your business. Most of these are normally quite expensive, and could end up costing you more than what you’d save by going BYOD.

However, the MDM provider Meraki, recently acquired by communications giant Cisco, is a hugely competent system which provides a BYOD office with all the features that are needed to ensure that any company data on personal devices is comprehensively protected and backed up.

You would be right to wonder what the catch of such a comprehensive free service is. Fortunately, there’s nothing diabolical about the offer. Whilst Cisco Meraki’s MDM is an excellent resource, the company makes their money selling networking hardware. This, if anything, is beneficial to your business.

When the time comes to expand there will be no need to implement a new MDM system to work with your new infrastructure. Instead Meraki will slot right in, reducing down-time for your company and allowing you to move seamlessly into your next stage of growth.

Move Carefully

The BYOD office is a hot topic for SMEs. And rightfully so, it promises significant savings and improved worker engagement. However, there are also undoubtedly opportunities for things to go wrong along the way. That’s why it’s important that you consider the issues highlighted in this article, and give serious consideration to the implementation of a robust MDM system that’s capable of managing a whole range of devices running different operating systems.

This kind of caution will pay dividends. Moving too quickly could put your data and your company at risk.