Just a few years ago, business owners and tech professionals were debating the merits of the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) trend. The debate is over; BYOD is here to stay, driven in part by the entry of the Millennial generation into the workforce. Digital natives who have been wired practically since birth, some Millennials even rank job offers according to the companies’ BYOD policies, according to a Gartner analyst.
As a self-employed business owner, you’ll need to get a handle on cyber security issues related to the BYOD trend, plus everyday online security best practices, to keep your business safe. Data breaches are bad news for businesses of any size and can cost you time, money and the trust of your customers and partners. Here are three ways to mitigate the risks of BYOD and implement security best practices at your company:
1. Make sure you use strong passwords on all devices. Passwords remain the front line of security for any company or personal device. Despite this, too many employees and even managers use easily hackable passwords like the names of their children, pets, favorite sports teams or other information that is readily available on Facebook and therefore easy to guess.
To reduce vulnerability on company devices and BYOD smartphones, tablets and laptops, provide employees with tips on how to create a tough-to-crack password that is nonetheless easy to recall. The use of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols makes passwords stronger. A password that uses symbols and numbers that resemble letters is tough to guess, such as “F00tb@ll” instead of “football”.
2. Hold a cyber security training session and provide support. The use of sound cyber security practices is as important for BYOD devices as it is for company-owned electronics. Since employees probably use the same devices to conduct personal business like mobile banking and online shopping, they have added motivation to learn about secure practices.
It’s a good idea to hold a cyber security training session to teach employees how to create strong passwords, avoid phishing or keylogger scams and ensure they have protection against malware and viruses on personal devices that are used for business. You may also want to consider software solutions, such as an automated password management system, to help employees maintain tough-to-crack passwords for all the sites they visit.
3. Establish accountability. Once you’ve trained employees on the best cyber security practices and provided the support they need, the next step is to hold staff accountable. Create a written cyber security policy manual for employees, and ask them to sign a form acknowledging that they have read it and will abide by the practices it outlines for both company-owned equipment and the personal devices they use for work.
The advantages of this approach are two-fold: It emphasizes that you take cyber security seriously, and it lets your staff know beyond doubt that you expect them to follow company cyber security policies on personal devices that they use for work. If you’ve provided adequate training and support, employees will perceive this approach as reasonable.
As a self-employed business owner, you are responsible for proactively addressing the risks the BYOD trend introduces to your workplace. Allowing employees to use their personal devices may improve productivity and extend accessibility, but only if you establish safeguards that mitigate the very real risks involved. By following these three tips, you can manage BYOD in the workplace and gain an edge over competitors.