December 12, 2014
Welcome to the BYOD arena. In the red corner, we have freedom and productivity, and in the blue corner, we have security threats. All joking aside, when you boil it down, these are the two primary issues surrounding BYOD implementation. Those hesitant to bringing employee-owned devices into the workplace normally don’t question the freedom of using personal devices at work, but rather, ask if the benefits outweigh the security issues.
It’s certainly a fair argument. Personal devices aren’t as protected as corporate devices, making them far more vulnerable to external attacks. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable in this fight. Smaller companies and startups are usually quicker to adopt BYOD policies than the corporate giants, given the perceived cost savings and increased flexibility and productivity. However, smaller companies also lack the same IT budgets and professional experience as larger organisations, making them easier targets for cyberattacks. For this reason, BYOD security should be among the top concerns of smaller companies.
Here are two main starting points to consider:
Invest in Security Software
Despite all the news we hear on data breaches and cyber threats, it’s amazing how many people don't have security software on their devices. It seems like something so easy, but people always seem to think these problems only happen to others. Well unfortunately, they happen all too frequently with small businesses. Antivirus or anti-malware software can protect your company from many common cyber threats. Make sure your employees have the right security software on their computers, and security apps on their phones and tablets, to help protect company information at all times.
Secure your WiFi
One of the most common access points for cyberattacks is unprotected and unsecured wireless networks. When setting up your router, make sure to customize its settings so it doesn’t broadcast the network. In addition, make sure the network is password protected. Once again, it’s a very simple step, but if you don’t do this, anyone can sign on and remotely access information or other devices.
While larger companies may have more controls and bigger IT budgets, that doesn’t mean they’re impervious to security threats. Recent news reports prove that large companies are subject to data breaches as well. However, there is another issue larger corporations face as a result of BYOD that doesn’t normally affect smaller businesses. Poor WiFi.
Humans are hard to please. Despite the fact that we’ve created devices that grant us instant access to information and the ability to connect with anyone, it isn’t good enough. Anytime we lose service, or even if it’s a little slow, we curse how terrible technology performs. I guess we forgot where we were only a few short years ago. Regardless, we have zero-tolerance for poor WiFi connections.
Larger company networks face the challenge of having to handle so many devices at once. Granted, small businesses can have slow connections as well, but in their case it’s usually as simple as updating one or two routers. Large companies often have a significant number of connections running simultaneously from multiple devices. All of these connections simply clog the network, bringing speeds to a crawl. BYOD adds another layer of difficulty. Today, employees aren’t just connecting with their corporate computers. They’re also using their personal smartphones or tablets. Corporate networks often aren’t designed to handle consumer devices. As a result, when a large number of employee-owned devices from home are introduced, it takes a toll.
In order to overcome this, businesses need to make sure they’re using access points and routers that are designed to handle consumer devices. That can pose a significant challenge, as there are so many devices available that employees may bring in. An open BYOD policy can actually help with this issue. IT departments can hold an onboarding and determine which devices people intend on using. With that information, IT can then customize the network to meet the demands. Otherwise, IT will be unaware of the devices employees are using, and the problems will persist.
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