The growing influence and significance of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are undeniable. Workers are eagerly embracing the strategy, as they appreciate the ability to utilize the devices they are most familiar with for work-related purposes. And since BYOD policies can make businesses more flexible and productive, the strategy is also gaining popularity among organizations in every industry.
Yet despite these trends, many firms are still unprepared to handle the challenges presented by BYOD. Notably, a recent study found that the majority of businesses currently lack BYOD policies. Without official strategies and tools such as secure file sharing solutions in place, businesses leveraging BYOD may be at risk of experiencing a data breach.
Unsafe status quo
The study, Acronis' 2013 Data Protection Trends Research report, was conducted by the Ponemon Institute and included responses from more than 4,300 IT professionals from eight countries. The survey found that more than 60 percent of participating organizations do not currently have a BYOD policy in place.
Furthermore, the report found that nearly 80 percent of responding firms have not taken steps to educate their employees about BYOD best practices and strategies.
"The fact that 80 percent of the companies we surveyed do not train their staff on BYOD best practices shows us that we're really still at the early stages of this movement," said Anders Logfren, director of mobility solutions for Acronis, CRN reported. "BYOD has been talked about for years, but now that it's become so pervasive in the workplace, no company can afford to ignore it - let alone such a large majority."
Without training employees on the proper use of personal mobile devices in a work-related context, businesses may be in danger of seeing corporate and client data lost, stolen or exposed. Such incidents can prove tremendously damaging to firms. Not only will there be direct financial losses, but companies will also suffer severely in terms of their reputations. As the populace in general becomes increasingly cognizant of the dangers of identity theft and fraud, consumers are less willing to do business with organizations that have a history of data breaches or exposures.
In order for businesses to continue leveraging BYOD without risking a data breach, firms need to take steps to minimize the risks involved. In addition to education, businesses must provide tools which employees can leverage without imposing too great a burden.
"[C]ompanies need to take more proactive steps to integrate safe, enterprise-grade BYOD management tools that not only put IT back in control of sensitive data, but that are easy enough to use, so that employees won't feel bogged down by a movement that was meant to empower them," said Logfren, the news source reported.
There are a number of options in this area, all of which should be carefully considered by any business that allows BYOD within its organization. For example, firms should invest in tools that allow them to remotely wipe the contents of a given device in the event that it is lost or stolen, as well as when the device's owner leaves the company. This minimizes the risk that a data breach will occur if a given device falls into the wrong hands.
Even more importantly, businesses should consider utilizing secure file sharing solutions. These resources are critical for ensuring that files remain protected as they are sent, received and accessed by personnel within a given organization. By choosing file sharing tools that are secure and, as Logfren highlighted, easy to use, firms can greatly improve the overall quality of their data security while continuing to take advantage of BYOD.