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Take a Vacation (and Bring Your Device with You)

Written by Alison Turner, Director, Product Marketing, Globalscape

With so many U.S. employees bringing mobile devices to work, home and on vacation, IT can secure data in motion by tightening and enforcing BYOD policy  

Last year, 66 percent of Americans worked during vacation. Time away from the office is good for productivity, creativity, mental health and the economy. While working on vacation has its own stigma, clearly many Americans can't resist responding to email or finishing up that presentation on their way to the beach.

A personal laptop, tablet or mobile device is often the go-to method to get work done on vacation, but this presents a gray area between personal device use and sensitive corporate data which can expose companies to serious security risks.

Why BYOD Is So Popular Among Employees and Businesses

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) allows employees to furnish their own hardware for use on the job, and provides opportunities for greater mobility and flexibility for those who work remotely from home or who take their work with them on vacation.

Beyond the benefits to employees, BYOD also helps corporations reduce device expenses, while giving workers the luxury and convenience of using their favorite gadgets to do their jobs. It's a win-win, right?  

So, What's the Hold-Up?

Things get complicated for IT teams because they must determine how they're going to oversee such a diverse range of operating systems and devices, and build policies for effectively managing personal devices use across the organization.

On top of the data governance predicament that IT teams face when overseeing diverse operating systems and devices, there's an added cyber and physical security risk with BYOD.

For starters, mobile malware is approaching a billion-dollar industry, according to research from McAfee Labs. They detected over 16 million mobile malware infestations in the third quarter of 2017 alone, nearly doubling the number from a year earlier. The 2017 Mobile Threat Landscape Report from Trend Micro found that mobile ransomware surged 415 percent last year, with cryptojacking malware, adware and other attacks on the rise. At the same time, vulnerabilities in iOS and Android have also doubled, according to Trend Micro.

BYOD Goes to the Beach

When workers bring their own device on vacation, the chance of loss or theft increases. According to phone insurance company Asurion, 29 million phones are lost or stolen each year, and traveling puts us at higher risk for theft. With the blending of personal and corporate devices so prevalent in the modern enterprise, lost personal devices are more than likely to have corporate data housed, which can create a BYO-Disaster for IT.

Develop a Robust BYOD Strategy

These challenges don't mean that organizations should turn their backs on BYOD. In fact, embracing the trend and meeting it head-on with a strong plan and methods to enforce your BYOD policy, is the best way to take advantage of its benefits while reducing the dangers.

To develop a robust strategy, decision-makers can consider the following tips:

1)      Analyze everyone's needs within the company - including the organization's goals and requirements

2)      Establish and communicate the guidelines or restrictions for which devices can be used, as well as clarifying details about ownership, reimbursement, security, support and other expectations will keep all parties on the same page

3)      Educate staff and remind them of these policies to uphold them throughout the organization over time

4)      Consider mobile apps and data management tools to make BYOD management more streamlined and secure

5)      Fine tune and communicate the protocols when workers leave the organization to ensure sensitive and critical information remains within the control of the company

Where Most Companies Struggle

We've all been there. We've worked tirelessly to develop a plan of action to solve a specific problem; determined how we'll execute; communicated the plan and generated buy-in from management and staff. In the beginning, everyone's heads nod and deployment goes smoothly, but months later, we realize our hard work is dwindling: accountability and effort subside and our policies fly out the window.

The above scenario is how many BYOD policies land today: the guidelines are carefully constructed and communicated, but over time, it ends up being "every device for itself."

For this reason, not only does a strong BYOD policy take time to develop and articulate to employees, but it requires (a lot) of monitoring and regular assessments to make sure the standards are being enforced long after they're established.

Here are the top ways to guarantee longevity for your BYOD strategy:

1.       Provide Solid Support

Employees expect the same robust support services available to their office desktops for their BYOD mobile devices. We recommend setting up support structures for employees so they don't end up using unsanctioned devices or applications. This will help ensure a lasting BYOD policy that stays true to set standards and prevents employees going rogue.  

2.       Maintain Remote Control

It's also important to have tools in place that can remotely wipe data from devices if an employee loses a device, has a device stolen or leaves the company. Having a cloud-based managed file transfer tool will allow your team to visualize all the data within your company from a remote location and give you control of that data. So, when an employee leaves their phone on an airplane on their way to the beach, there's no concern over data left on the device. Furthermore, when an employee leaves the company, make sure to determine what you'll do with the data before decommissioning the device. Consider saving a copy of the data to a thumb drive, other storage device on your network or in the cloud.

3.       Schedule Quarterly ‘Checkups'

The mobile device world is evolving at rapid speed, so having a "set-it-and-forget-it" BYOD strategy just won't work. In order to keep your policies up-to-date, enforceable and effective, we recommend conducting regular-quarterly or twice a year is advisable-assessments of the BYOD devices employees use. During these regular assessments, IT should review the policies, tools and education practices currently in place to guarantee they're up-to-date.

As companies face extraordinarily high costs for losing valuable data or not knowing where all their data lives-especially now that GDPR is in effect-information management on mobile devices is no leisurely vacation. Therefore, it's imperative for organizations to seriously reflect on how they can bolster security, while taking advantage of the convenience and mobility BYOD promises.

There's no quick or easy answer to broadly securing devices and system resources within a BYOD situation, but secure file sharing solutions, such as managed file transfer (MFT), can help draw a stronger line between personal and company resources while giving workers convenient, intuitive tools. Pair that with continuing support and regular check-ins, and you could be on your way to BYOD paradise.

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About the Author

 

Alison Turner is Director of Product Marketing at Globalscape. She is responsible for executing the go-to-market strategy and leading the team that brings Globalscape products to market. Turner manages product marketing as well as competitive and market analysis, and partners with product development to drive adoption of Globalscape's MFT platforms. Turner has 10 years of experience in information technology, mobile security, cybersecurity, and consumer electronics. Turner has an MBA from Rice University Jones School of Business.

Published Thursday, June 28, 2018 7:37 AM by David Marshall
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