It is easy to understand why more and more businesses are taking a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) approach to the smartphones, tablets, and laptops many employees rely on to do their jobs. BYOD can boost employee efficiency and satisfaction, often while reducing a company’s information technology costs. But the approach is not without risk for both you and your staff. So, it is highly advisable to create a strong formal policy that combines convenience with security.
As an employer, your primary concern with BYOD is no doubt the inevitable security risks that arise when your networks are accessible to personal devices that could be stolen, lost, or hacked. However, you also must think about various legal compliance issues, such as electronic document retention for litigation purposes or liability for overtime pay when non-exempt employees use their devices to work outside of normal hours.
For employees, the main worry comes down to privacy. Will you, their employer, have access to personal information, photos, and other non-work-related data on the device? Could an employee lose all of that if you are forced to ‘wipe’ the device because it has been lost or stolen, or when the employee leaves your company?
A BYOD policy must address these and other issues. Each company’s individual circumstances will determine the final details, but most employers should, at a minimum, require employees to sign an acknowledgment of their obligations to:
- Use strong passwords & automatic lock-outs after periods of inactivity
- Immediately report lost or stolen devices
- Install mandated antivirus software & other protective measures
- Regularly back up their devices
- Keep apps & operating systems up to date
- Encrypt their devices
The policy also should prohibit the use of public wi-fi networks or require employees to log in through a secure virtual private network when connecting via public wi-fi. You may want to forbid certain apps, too.
In addition, you need to spell out your rights to access, monitor, and delete data on employees’ devices — including the types of data you can access and under which conditions. In particular, explain your wiping procedures and the steps employees can take to protect their personal information from permanent erasure.
Nearly everyone who works for your company likely has a smartphone at this point. As such devices integrate themselves ever more deeply into our daily lives, it is only natural that they will affect our jobs. Establishing a BYOD policy now can help prevent costly mistakes and potential litigation down the road. We can provide further information.