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The technophobe’s guide to: working from home

Learn more about BYOD and what it means for your business

Thanks to legislation changes and developments in affordable mobile technologies, working from home is now commonplace in many businesses. Where this is supported by an organisation, remote working can yield massive benefits. However many employees are now circumventing company security using their own devices to work.

 
What is BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device is a phrase used to describe the practice of employees supplying their own computer hardware to perform work-related tasks. Common examples include:

  • Using personal smartphones to access and manage company email.
  • Using home computers to access the corporate network remotely.
  • Using personal laptops and tablets on site to access or present company data.

More than 80% of employed adults use some kind of personally-owned electronic device for work-related functions. – ESET Security.

 
Why BYOD is good

BYOD offers businesses significant benefits:

  • By using their own smartphones and computers, employees no longer require your company to purchase as much technology for them to perform their duties.
  • Staff remain more productive for longer when they can access company systems at any time. An iPass survey found that mobile workers using BYOD devices average 240 hours (30 days) more productivity each year than those who do not.
  • BYOD helps cope with localised disasters which could close your office, by allowing staff to remain productive in the meantime as they work from home.
  • Training costs reduce as staff are using systems with which they are already familiar.

 
When BYOD goes bad

Despite these benefits, there are some risks to consider with BYOD:

  • Your sensitive company data is stored on employee devices with limited security. If the device is lost or stolen, your data could be compromised.
  • Connecting non-work devices to the company network increases the chances of virus and malware affecting company resources and data. 32.8 million Android devices, such as smartphones and tablets were infected with malware last year as shown in this eGuide from NQ.
  • Your IT team may be overloaded by requests to support an ever-increasing array of devices, often diverting energies to resolving non-work related issues. This may even include providing remote IT support.

Less than 10% of people using personal tablets for work have enabled auto-lock to stop unauthorised persons accessing data.

Just one quarter of BYOD smartphone users have enabled screen locking.

(Source: ESET Security.)

 
Getting control of BYOD

There are definite benefits to promoting BYOD within your business. However, you should consider:

  • Creating a BYOD policy to govern employee behaviour and set define boundaries for data access/use.
  • Implement security systems that further lock-down access rights to prevent unauthorised data use or theft.
  • Encourage the use of security tools built into BYOD devices such as encryption, screen locking and remote wipe should the device be stolen.
  • Enforce any policy you create so that employees take mobile security as seriously as you do.

 
Key takeaways

  • BYOD offers significant business benefits in terms of cost savings, efficiency and productivity.
  • BYOD also presents significant challenges that need to be overcome to protect company data and IP.
  • Consider remote IT support provisions, and what is and is not a company issue when working with BYOD devices.
  • The benefits of BYOD outweigh the drawbacks by quite some margin.

 

Dr James Huntington Managing Director

James is the Founder and Managing Director at IT Farm. His background in Computer Science help lay the foundation for IT Farm to become one of the UK's first Cloud Computing Companies.

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