Does Your BYOD Policy Safeguard Your Valuable Business Data?

September 27, 2017
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Does Your BYOD Policy Safeguard Your Valuable Business Data?

New Jersey businesses are increasingly allowing employees use their own personal devices to perform work tasks, such as responding to client emails, scheduling meetings, and preparing reports. While many companies initially attempted to curtail the practice, often referred to as Bring Your Own Device or BYOD, it has become the new normal in many workplaces.

Does Your BYOD Policy Safeguard Your Valuable Business Data?

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Risks and Rewards of Allowing Workers to Use Personal Devices

For workers, carrying one device is more convenient and allows them to more easily perform work outside the office. For employers, BYOD programs are cost-effective and can boost employee productivity. BT Global Services found 42 percent of employees who use their personal devices for work reported an increase in productivity and efficiency. Meanwhile, a Cisco report projected that businesses can save approximately $950 per employee annually with a standard BYOD program.

While businesses and their employees can certainly appreciate the perks, many fail to appreciate the risks of BYOD, particularly with respect to data protection and cybersecurity. Many workers keep valuable business data on their laptops, smartphones, or tablets, which are more susceptible to fall into the wrong hands once it leaves the workplace. According to Consumer Reports, approximately 5.2 million smartphones were lost or stolen in the U.S. in 2014.

Employees also tend to be lax with installing security measures and keeping them updated. For instance, a Cisco survey found that 39 percent of employees do not password protect their personal devices, and more than half are guilty of using unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Not surprisingly, a 2016 survey of cybersecurity professionals found that 21 percent of surveyed organizations had experienced a security breach through either a BYOD or corporate-owned mobile device. 

Allowing employees to use their own phones and tablets can also create problems should litigation arise, as discovery may include information stored on employee-owned devices. Employees are often unaware that their personal devices could be seized as evidence and, therefore, unavailable for weeks or months. For businesses, retrieving the requested information can be a complex task. In some cases, employees may have even deleted e-mails or files that should have been retained.

Implementing a BYOD Policy

To balance the convenience of BYOD and the risks, New Jersey businesses should adopt an appropriate policy and conduct employee training. An appropriate BYOD policy should be tailored to the needs of the business, including any regulatory scheme within which it operates, and may include:

  • Electronic use policy: The company’s electronic use policy applies equally to corporate and employee-owned devices.
  • Privacy disclaimers: Workers waive certain privacy rights when a device is used for work purposes.
  • Password protection requirements: Require password protection and other appropriate security features on the device.
  • Remote access authorization: Articulate the circumstances under which the employer has the right to physically and/or remotely access the device.
  • Circumstances requiring a device “wipe”: Detail the circumstances under which business may “wipe” business information from the worker’s device, such as theft of the device or termination of employment.
  • Privacy protections: Outline how the company will access and protect an employee’s personal information on the device.

Of course, a BYOD policy is only effective if employees follow it. By educating employees about the risks associated with mobile devices as well as the benefits of data security, businesses can increase the odds that workers will buy into their BYOD policy. 

Do you have any feedback, thoughts, reactions or comments concerning this topic? Feel free to leave a comment below for Fernando M. Pinguelo. If you have any questions about this post, please contact me or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work. To learn more about data privacy and security, visit eWhiteHouse Watch – Where Technology, Politics, and Privacy Collide (http://ewhwblog.com).