BYOD presents major opportunities, but security is essential

Jan 15th, 2014 / Category: Enterprise Mobility

By this point, the bring-your-own-device movement can no longer be accurately described as a trend. The strategy is well-established, popular among businesses of all sizes and sectors. Employees tend to favor these options because they offer workers the chance to use their preferred mobile devices to perform their work-related tasks at any time and from any location, thereby providing greater flexibility. For the business itself, BYOD enables employees to be more productive and more satisfied with their jobs, helping the firm's bottom line and retention rates.

Yet for all of these advantages, it is important to note that BYOD policies are not automatically successful - there are significant challenges that must be addressed. Paramount among these are the issues of security. Business leaders need to ensure that their networks and sensitive data remain safe even as employees utilize a wide range of personally owned mobile devices.

Key to achieving the right balance between employee independence and data security is a high-quality secure file sharing solution. Such a resource is necessary if workers are to make the most of BYOD without putting their companies at risk of a data breach.

BYOD security concerns
There are several reasons why BYOD poses a significant risk to a company's security. First and foremost is the challenge this deployment presents for IT teams typically tasked with overseeing network security. When employees are using company-owned devices, there is a high level of standardization and regulation. All of the devices are the same, or at the very least share an operating system, and workers are only permitted to install company-approved apps.

The same is not true for a BYOD environment. Instead, employees are permitted to use their own smartphones and tablets, and these will inevitably feature a high degree of variation. As a result, conflicts may emerge concerning the data security software used by the IT department. Additionally, it is extremely difficult, bordering on impossible, for IT staff to prevent workers from installing unauthorized apps on their devices.

These two factors combine to create significant security risks for any company that has authorized the implementation of BYOD policies.

Keeping data safe
Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps that business decision-makers can take to minimize these risks. Among the most significant of these is deploying a robust, high-quality secure file sharing solution.

This is due to the fact that file sharing is among the most potentially dangerous aspects of BYOD. For BYOD policies to yield positive results, workers must be able to send, receive and access sensitive corporate data via their personal devices at any given time. If this is not an option, the value of BYOD is severely undermined.

If employees are left to their own discretion, they will likely turn to consumer-grade box file sharing options, such as Dropbox. These programs have the advantage of being convenient, which is obviously appealing to workers. Unfortunately, such offerings do not feature sufficiently robust security to adequately protect sensitive business data. Businesses are much more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than individual consumers, and therefore require more reliable security.

But by providing employees with an easy-to-use, business-quality secure file sharing solution, workers will have no reason to turn to less dependable options. Instead, they will follow the company's best practices guidelines and leverage these tools for their file distribution and access needs. Corporate data will remain safe while employee productivity will increase. In this sense, secure file sharing allows firms to enjoy all of the benefits of BYOD without any greater risk.