The Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) trend is continuing to blur the lines between work and personal life, as workers make their own decisions about what applications they use to do work. While many large international organizations have embraced the BYOA trend, the concern for small businesses is how to ensure that their data remains secure whilst giving employees the freedom to work how they want, where they want, and using the apps of their choice.Ignoring this movement is not an option and banning staff from using whatever apps they choose is unlikely to be effective. Luckily there are a few steps that every business can take to strike the perfect balance between what employees want and what’s right for the business, when it comes to the applications that workers use in and out of the office:
Consider your employee’s needsTake the time to understand what apps employees are using and why. A recent report by Forrester Research shows that workers want apps that are easy to use, affordable, and help them communicate and collaborate with their colleagues more effectively. Interestingly, aside from the ‘cool’ factor of an app, the report found that workers also look for apps that they believe will make them more productive. They rarely pay for social cloud communication. Understanding why employees are favoring applications that weren’t originally introduced by IT is crucial to ensuring the most appropriate levels of security are taken without discouraging workforce collaboration.
Suggest secure appsSuggesting apps that meet your security requirements, yet are still desirable to use can be a great way for small business owners to get the most participation from their employees. For example, tools such as LogMeIn’s cloud file sync and share service, Cubby, is user friendly and at the same time it is also extremely secure and can be easily managed by IT. It’s also important to make sure that data accessed through apps is fully encrypted. Any company data, especially data on a mobile device, should be fully encrypted to industry standards. Encryption will help protect any company data from being accessed, even if an employee’s mobile device is stolen and hacked into it. Although data encryption won’t solve all security issues, it is a strong step ahead of ultimately working with an external security supplier.
Explain your concernsGetting to grips with the BYO phenomenon from the employees’ point of view is important. Small businesses should take the time to educate employees about the challenges and risks associated with bringing in their own apps. A business owner will receive more support, if the staff understands the ‘why’ behind the rules. Simply bringing up the topic in a staff meeting can go a long way to making both parties happy and comfortable. To provide staff with more guidance regarding the security implications of personal devices and apps, and what to look for from an app, consider producing an easy-to-understand set of guidelines and including them in company handbooks.
Once the rules are decided they must be enforced, with clear accountability and a process defined. Implementing these policies reduces the business’ liability in the case of a data breach, and also ensures employees are aware of the potential risks of using their own apps at work. Workers side-stepping IT and making their own decisions about what applications and devices they use at work can seem intimidating at first, but if small businesses approach this trend proactively, it can be easy to manage. By putting security solutions in place, applying policies, and enabling understanding, BYO isn’t so daunting after all. It’s simply a change in how staff collaborates. David Blair is Vice President of Products at LogMeIn
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