This is the second st guest post I have hosted on my blog. I met Ashley Furness through Kyle Lagunas, my first guest blog poster. Ashley is the CRM Analyst at Software Advice - an online resource for help desk and CRM software buyers guides and more. Here is her simple but sage advice for enabling employees to bring their own devices to work - a quickly growing trend for tech-savvy users:
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies–or allowing employees to use personal laptops, tablets and smartphones for work-related tasks–benefits employers and users in compelling ways. Workers get to use the device they are most comfortable with, and employers reap increased productivity benefits.
But sensitive corporate data is very likely vulnerable to theft on employee-owned mobile devices.
Fortunately, help desk operators can take steps to fight back against these BYOD-created threats. Here are four strategies your company should implement to keep data secure, while supporting employees' choice to use their own laptops, smartphones and tablets in the workplace.
1. Encrypt All Data
Employees using public, often unencrypted Wi-Fi connections is one of the most significant and prevalent exposure points. In fact one study found 31 percent of corporate employees had used a laptop to connect to their company’s network through a public hotspot.
To curb this security risk, IT groups should distribute and manage Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions for all mobile devices. These tools encrypt transmitted data regardless of where or how it is accessed through mobile devices.
Establishing guidelines for remote access is also critical. These rules should specify which operating systems--such as iOS and Android--are supported as each comes with unique benefits and challenges.
2. Have a Plan for Lost or Stolen Devices
Experts recommend IT teams have specific lost or stolen device action plans written into BYOD policies. This should include such steps as changing email, Dropbox and other passwords if they were installed on the device.
The help desk should also install remote wiping and locking solutions on BYOD devices, which can be included in the mobile device management (MDM) solution.
3. Monitor and Control Network Use
Administrators should integrate MDM systems with help desk software. This will help agents watch for network bottlenecks and ensure compliance with BYOD policies.
Granting BYOD users network access on two or three devices is great for productivity, but this can also tax networks. An MDM can track in real time when a device signs in, what users access, and whether it’s configured with the appropriate security software.
Another option is a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, which equips IT teams with tools for monitoring network, server and storage performance. It identifies a device causing a slowdown and automatically notifies an agent.
4. Install Anti-malware/virus Infrastructure and Educate Users
Malware creation hit record highs last year with a reported 26 million new strains in circulation. This malicious software can wreak havoc on your company’s security if an infected smartphone, tablet or laptop is connected to your company’s network or email.
To combat these threats, IT teams should equip devices with anti-virus and anti-malware systems. These functions are sometimes wrapped into VPN or MDM software. Others can be installed separately to fight exposure to viruses, malware and spammers.
All of these strategies add up to a significant shift in help desk operations and spending. The cost can seem daunting, but the decision now isn’t whether to make the investment but rather how much risk you are willing to take by doing nothing.