The BYOD Hangover
Some businesses got drunk on BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. They bought heavily into the idea that they could cut costs and get more work out of employees by letting them use their own mobile devices and computers. Now we’re starting to see more problems for businesses, individuals and everyone they touch electronically.
Ten years ago, the benefits were clearly present for businesses and their owners/partners and employees. As the first generation of smartphones, mostly Blackberry, took hold, busy people and small businesses found they could untether themselves from office systems. Tablets, starting with iPad, increased their freedom because their bigger screens and keyboards made it easier to read spreadsheets, written documents and email and update files or respond to email.
- Salespeople could access pricing lists, customer records and just about any critical information they needed to provide better service.
- Everyone with a smartphone – and soon after, a tablet – could respond with increasing capabilities.
- Busy parents could stay in touch with the office, giving them more flexibility to manage their lives.
In our business, IT professionals could respond to client or corporate information management needs from anyplace that had cellular service.
As Wi-Fi and all forms of communications networks grew and more smartphones and tablets came to the market, along with various carriers, the ways to stay connected lost all technical limits. And because everyone wanted to have their own personal technology – smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer – to use on their own time, businesses of all sizes met the demand. Employees no longer needed to have specific products. IT managers were able to incorporate everyone’s devices, and employers were happy to give everyone 24/7/365 work capability.
It was intoxicating for everybody. Now, it’s intoxicating for hackers and cybercriminals; everyone else is having a big, bad hangover. The problem is security.
Here are some sobering concerns:
- While we can help our business and professional services clients secure their networks and access to the data on their corporate servers, we need to educate employees about programs to control security. A business really needs to depend on its employees to keep their individual devices and computers secure. One hole can be an entry point to sensitive data anywhere.
- Mobile phones and tablets are becoming more vulnerable to security problems. Why? That’s where the money is. With people conveniently accessing critical data over cellular and Wi-Fi networks all the time, hackers are finding more ways to penetrate security measures. Everyone needs to make sure they know that anybody in the world can take a peek at their business on any unsecured public network – like one in a coffee shop, hotel lobby or airport.
- Even if you take every available security step in your corporate and personal systems – strong passwords, strong firewalls, up-to-date and active anti-virus and malware software – anyone with access to your system who doesn’t follow the same precautions puts you at risk.
- The convenience of publicly accessible storage sites, such as Dropbox, can lead to the loss of privacy of your data. When you give someone the ability to download files from a storage site onto their own computers or tablets, you effectively give them ownership of that data. That means an employee can “own” client lists, financial information, etc.
With the horses already out of the barn and out on the open range, you can’t corral them and bring them back. But there a number of steps you can take:
- Educate everyone in your organization about the need for security and what they need to do:
- Have strong passwords and change them often
- Be aware of when they are on unsecured public networks
- Keep their own personal technology protected with up-to-date, activated anti-virus and malware programs
- Understand that any holes in their own security systems can open holes for hackers to get into your business’s system and the systems of anyone or any organization they’ve ever contacted over the Internet – and that it can go viral from there
- Require strong passwords (combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters) to access your data files wherever they are
- Require frequent password changes
- Determine which files need to stay on a secure server that you control
- Backup data securely and often
- Monitor your backup
We can help you with all of these steps:
- Lunch ‘n’ Learn programs about security
- Audits of your system’s security
- Monitored backup services
Contact us by phone – 973-433-6676 – or email to keep your data clean and your systems sober in the BYOD environment.