November 6, 2014
Disasters happen and there’s no way to prevent them completely. That’s a sad reality that many business owners have to face. Whether it’s a severe outage, a natural disaster, or some other unforeseen catastrophe, even the best preventative methods aren’t enough to stay 100 percent safe at all times. With this mind, business continuity has become a valuable and essential aspect of any company’s strategy. The importance of preserving a business’s infrastructure after a disastrous event can’t be overstated, but typical methods of business continuity have been thrown for a loop with the rise of bring your own device (BYOD) policies in the workplace. While BYOD may help employees be more productive, it can still have a significant impact on a company’s continuity plans. It’s clear BYOD isn’t going away, so business owners need to account for its effect and change their plans as a result.
Downtime for any business can be seriously damaging. Beyond the obvious financial costs associated with losing network access, having inoperable servers, or dealing with any number of unfortunate effects, a company may also suffer irreparable harm to its reputation. Losing access to a network for any period of time may not only negatively impact business operations, it increases the security risks that might seriously harm the company’s infrastructure. Needless to say, regaining full operability and network function should be any organization’s goal, but in the meantime, BYOD may actually help keep a company running while the necessary repairs and corrections are made.
In other words, bring your own device can provide a boost to business continuity plans. Part of the reason for this is the fact that BYOD relies so much on cloud computing to be effective. Many business applications and data storage capabilities are done on the cloud, making businesses more agile when responding to disasters and outages. When employees can use their personal mobile devices for work, that means they can use them to access critical applications that still enable them to do their jobs. So with a BYOD policy, workers can essentially go around outages and still keep up with their workloads. In comparison, businesses that rely solely on local access with desktops and on-premise servers will find themselves unable to continue their operations during an outage.
This mobile workforce makes outages more of an annoyance than a crippling effect. Of course, that’s provided employees have been given the required authorization to be able to access the necessary applications on their devices. But given these benefits that BYOD brings to business continuity, that doesn’t mean there are no challenges either. During any period of time where normal operability is hindered and employees have to rely on their mobile devices to get any work done, increases to security threats can result. While utilizing critical business applications from a device can avoid some of the more negative effects of an outage, valuable and sensitive data is still flowing through access points that might not have the top-notch security protocols of a company’s network. Personally-owned mobile devices may also suffer from compatibility issues, negating almost any substantial benefit that comes from BYOD in terms of business continuity. This is especially important if employees need to gain access to backup systems, which are usually designed without BYOD in mind.
These noticeable drawbacks shouldn’t dissuade businesses from adopting BYOD, but they should serve as reminders to address BYOD issues regarding business continuity. That means managing security risks by performing risks assessments wherein companies properly define all the entry and exit points of a system along with the channels where data flows. Identifying threats is a must and figuring out the vulnerabilities inherent in each device is equally important. With these steps in place, organizations can feel more confident their BYOD policies will prove crucial in aiding business continuity.
While there is no foolproof way to ensure business continuity all the time, bring your own device can prove to be a valuable tool in helping keep a company on its feet during times of disaster. Of all the benefits that BYOD can bring to an organization, business continuity is often overlooked but can be just the thing companies need to maintain infrastructure and overall operations. Businesses without BYOD would be wise to look into how employee-owned mobile devices can be a vital component in weathering the storms that will inevitably come their way.
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