One of the most effective ways to provide more flexibility when it comes to employees having more ways to do work is by allowing them to access company systems and data on their own devices.
Whether it’s checking email, instant messages, or just the status of a system outside office hours, there are plenty of ways employees could make use of their own smartphones.
But operating system vulnerabilities pose security risks to your corporate network and data, which is why you need to carefully plan out a BYOD policy.
Let me show you what’s involved.
WHAT IS A BYOD POLICY?
A Bring Your Own Device policy is a set of formal rules and requirements designed to gain the flexibility of allowing personal devices to connect to the company network while at the same time protecting company data.
It’s a lot more than mobile device management (MDM) and requires careful planning by all departments in your organization.
SET A DEFINITIVE POLICY
You need to establish a definitive BYOD policy that will instantly address any questions or concerns employees might have regarding their personal devices.
For starters, you will want to cover what kind of devices and operating systems you want to allow access to your company network. Perhaps you only want computers connected to the office network, or maybe you are okay with smartphones as well.
What about tablets?
It is possible your network is optimized for Mac devices over Windows, or you feel comfortable with one manufacturer over the other.
Policy formation is one of the most important steps you’ll take in protecting your business and sensitive data. If you don’t already have an IT department in the fold, now is the time to bring a managed IT service provider, such as Charlotte IT Solutions, in to help you craft this policy.
You don’t want to grant full access to your network and sensitive data without knowing what could happen. Sometimes it is better to allow partial access to cell phones and full access to computers. You can even select the exact operating systems to be used for both laptop and mobile device management (MDM).
As long as it is in the policy and employees are provided with this information, it will help avoid problems later down the line.
HOW MANY PEOPLE AND DEVICES ARE USING THE NETWORK?
Have you ever tried to purchase something the moment it is released online, but instead of successfully buying the item, you’re met with an “error” message of some sort?
This happens when the network crashes due to too many users attempting to access a particular page at once. The same thing can happen with an office network when too many users and personal devices attempt to log on at the same time.
Due to this, you need to design the network and its signal strength to handle a specific number of users and company data.
Your Bring Your Own Device policy has to overestimate the maximum number of users at one time to ensure everyone in your office is able to access the corporate data when necessary, and yet you also don’t need to shoot for the moon, as that will only increase costs without necessarily boosting any kind of performance.
When it comes to designating the number of viable access points and network signal strength, Charlotte IT Solutions can help you out with forming the ideal BOYD policy.
PERSONAL DEVICE AND USER INFORMATION
When crafting a BYOD policy, you must have individual user accounts. Ideally, you will also use at least a two-prong authentication process.
This way, the user is not only forced to type in a password to access the network, but they also need to provide a fingerprint scan, a retina scan, confirm a push notification to their cell phone, click on a link sent to their email, or so on.
Whenever you are dealing with BYOD, there is a stronger possibility of a lost or stolen device getting into the wrong hands. When this happens, it instantly puts your entire network at risk because all it takes is one skilled hacker to access your files.
That is if the network is accessed using only a login and password.
The multi-level authentication process cuts this hacking possibility down dramatically. Plus, you are able to cut access to anyone using the particular user information.
You will also want to provide unique user logins so that you can monitor activity on employees’ own devices. If anything looks out of the ordinary, or if a user is logging in on multiple devices at once, it might be an indication that someone has stolen their device or is attempting to push their way into the network and attempt data breaches.
It provides you with an additional level of security, which, when dealing with a BYOD security policy, is something you absolutely need to utilize. The more corporate data security protocols here, the better off you’ll be.
BYOD SECURITY POLICY FOR COMPANY DATA AND PERSONAL DEVICES
As part of your BYOD policy, you will need to carefully analyze all potential risks and security concerns associated with employee devices. The following are some of the most important considerations before you allow network connection of any employee-owned devices.
CREATE A LIST OF BLACKLISTED APPLICATIONS
There are specific applications you need to completely blacklist your employees from using with their own device they are bringing to the office. Certain applications open up the entire computer for possible issues, and when a computer is facing Malware and Viruses it puts everyone else in the office at risk.
If your employees want to use these applications at home, they will need to do so on a completely different computer that is never brought into the office.
What kind of applications need to be blacklisted? Any kind of file-sharing application should not be allowed. If you ever used applications like Limewire when you were growing up, you know these file-sharing services are great at two things: getting copies of programs and getting infected with a virus.
It’s simply far too risky.
While your employees probably shouldn’t be looking for ways to illegally download programs to their personal devices, to begin with, what they do on their own device is not your concern, as long as they don’t bring the blacklisted applications to your office.
For a full list of blacklisted applications, you should talk with your IT department or a professional IT consulting service. Professionals will go over all the applications and programs you need to blacklist from any BYOD policy. This will help elevate your BYOD and security services.
Do not have an open network. This is the last thing you should do. Instead, whenever an employee is attempting to log onto the office network and corporate data, they need to provide a login and password.
You should also set up specific password requirements that make it difficult to steal this information. Having this gateway through the network firewall will help add a level of security and help you prevent any kind of unauthorized access beyond that.
ALWAYS BACKUP YOUR CORPORATE DATA
Mistakes happen. Sometimes a virus can sneak through the cracks. Major corporations that spend millions of dollars on network security run into issues like this from time to time. It usually had nothing to do with the business being lazy or not taking data security seriously.
A skilled hacker just happened to make it through and siphon off information or crash the network. You need to prepare for this exact situation, especially when you allow personal device connections.
Murphy’s Law states that if something bad can happen, it will eventually happen.
Basically, this means you need to prepare for every possible situation in your BYOD policy. As long as you’re prepared for the situation, it really doesn’t matter if it happens or not. Yes, it might be a slight inconvenience, but you’ll be prepared for the possible outcome.
So, if a virus does find its way onto the network through an employee’s own device and begins to cause problems you will want to have a sound backup to draw from. With a constantly updated backup, you’ll have all the network files available when needed.
Sometimes viruses can come in the form of ransomware. Ransomware will lock down your ability to access anything on the computer. It will ask for you to send money somewhere, and, once received, it will give you the password to remove the ransomware.
First, never pay this because while the password will likely work, the ransomware will probably leave traces of another virus or secondary ransomware.
Instead, you need to disconnect from the Internet, and if it is not possible to remove the malware from your computer or network, you can rely on the data backup. It is an annoyance and takes some time to install the data backup. But having this backup can save you all kinds of headaches later on.
TALK TO YOUR STAFF ABOUT BYOD DEVICE SECURITY
It might sound simple, but most malware ends up on a network because it is allowed in through personal devices. Someone might click on an email that is infected, or they might go to a website that isn’t secure.
You need to talk with your employees about how they use their own devices they bring to work. By taking BYOD and security seriously, you’ll protect your business and your employee’s computer systems.
PROTECT YOUR NETWORK AND YOUR EMPLOYEE’S PERSONAL DEVICES
Network protection often begins with your employees and what they do on their own devices. Allowing employees to bring computers and mobile devices to the office can make it easier for them to get work done at home and while away from the office.
However, it also puts your entire office network at risk. If their computers or mobile devices are ever infected, there is a greater chance it will leach onto the network (kind of like one kid with a cold going to school. In all likelihood, other children will become infected with the same cold).
In order to protect your office network, it is important for you to practice different BYOD and security measures. And for additional assistance in setting up the best firewall and network security, make sure to give our team at Charlotte IT Solutions a call.
HELP BUILD YOUR BYOD POLICY WITH CHARLOTTE IT SOLUTIONS
Network protection is important, regardless of whether you run your business completely in the office or allow your employees to travel with a BYOD policy.
A state-of-the-art security system in place for your network will ensure you are protected from external threats, so whether you are at home, in your Charlotte office, or an employee is traveling to Tokyo or Buenos Aires for a work conference, personal devices and your data will always be protected.
Here at Charlotte IT Solutions, we are here to help make sure you are always protected. Our managed IT services include a number of beneficial small business tools, including enhanced security measures, plus 24-hour monitoring seven days a week.
So, if you are ready to learn more about the security protocols we can set up for your business network, or you simply have additional questions you’d like answered first, our team here at Charlotte IT Solutions is just a phone call, or email, away.