BYOD - bring your own device

What you need to know about BYOD to protect your business

Organizations of all sizes have already migrated to cloud solutions to increase productivity, improve collaboration, and make their business more flexible.

Many businesses also choose to implement bring your own device (BYOD) policies to help save costs and make their team a bit more comfortable and flexible. While a BYOD setup offers a lot of advantages, it presents some downsides, too.

In this guide, we’ll discuss ways to minimize the downsides so that your business can stay as secure and productive as possible.

Network concerns

Allowing your team to bring their own devices results in plenty of benefits – reduced hardware investment costs, a more productive and happy team (using equipment that they like), consistent environments between remote and on-site work, and consistently updated equipment, to name a few.

Many of the downsides come from the network support side of your business, but they aren’t insurmountable if you know that they’re coming.

Compatibility issues

The devices your team brings in must align not only with your technology needs but with your current setup to avoid problems.

Personal laptops, for example, come standard with the “Home” version of Windows. While this is more than suitable for the average end user, in a business context, this “light” version of the OS can be limiting. Much of the advanced functionality that your IT team requires for networked and remote use won’t apply to the average Home users. So your technical team will have to manually reconcile the solutions for each instance. Taking these extra steps for most of the users on your network can eat up a lot of time.

Another example is allowing BYOD for your VoIP network. People get very attached to their phones and individual setups, so easily reaching them is more likely when your team can bring in their own phones. But making those devices SIP-ready will take some tweaking – if you can get them to work properly.

The simplest solution to this problem is to have your IT team check these employee devices to make sure they’re up to snuff. For any that are not compatible, you can either disqualify the device and be done with it, consider investing in some minor upgrades like a business-tier Windows license, or give them a stipend to purchase a compatible phone.

Device support

The variety of devices that your employees will bring in will be nothing short of impressive. Macs, PCs, iPads with keyboards attached, and there’s always that one guy who prefers to work on his IBM Pentium 1 from 1994 over anything else.

This can increase the strain on your IT department to manage and support each device over its lifecycle and through replacement. One of the main benefits of providing devices to your team is gaining a degree of consistency in which devices are used and for how long. It also makes rolling out updates easier as well as supporting any break-fix situations.

But this problem can be minimized by keeping your help desk current with industry standards and outlining preferred (or required) devices for BYOD use. A hybrid system, providing some hardware and allowing BYOD for acceptable devices, works well to alleviate the variety of problems that your support team deals with.

Security issues

Security can be a concern with BYOD. You’re not sure what your employees are doing with their own devices in their free time or when they’re working remotely. So there’s potential for security holes that you shouldn’t ignore. That’s one reason it’s important to have a BYOD policy in place to define acceptable use and include best practices and tips for better security.

Don’t underestimate the importance of employee education. If they know the risks involved with BYOD and how to address them, they’ll be less likely to accidentally cause problems.

Address items in your policy like advanced password protection and frequently updating the passwords, requiring antivirus programs on the device, and encryption of disks or at least essential files. Have a backup and data recovery plan (BDR plan) in place and make sure your team follows it.

If one of your team members is working while traveling, how will you protect or retrieve their data if they lose their laptop? How will you prevent company data on any personal device from being compromised if stolen? These are all things you should be thinking about with your BYOD policy.

In conclusion

When you weigh the benefits against the costs, BYOD has a lot going for it. If you keep the above aspects in mind when you’re considering implementing a BYOD policy, you should have most of your bases covered.

But don’t hesitate to reach out and ask the experts for guidance when you need it. No one knows BYOD better than a managed service provider, so we can point you in the right direction.