As mobile electronic devices become more affordable and high-speed networks more available, an increasing number of employees are working from almost anywhere. The boost to productivity is good news for companies. But there is a downside. Many of those people are using their personal devices for company business. And that can expose your company to significant risk. Here are some of those risks.
When employees connect remotely, they have access to your proprietary and sensitive business information. Home computers, personal laptops, and mobile devices are not likely to have the same password, file, and sharing configurations your IT department uses. Also, an employee’s home wireless network might not be completely secured. Teleworkers using cloud-based file sharing could also result in compromised information depending on the level of security the service has. These all present the risk of wrong eyes seeing your valuable data.
Teleworkers could be using out-of-date operating systems or application software. They also may not have the latest security updates or anti-virus definitions installed on their devices, making them more vulnerable to viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, and zombies. Viruses and worms can corrupt files and slow systems and networks, while according to Sonicwall, “both Trojan horses and zombies may be dormant until a predefined event occurs and then are controlled by a remote hacker.” Any malware on a personal device could be inadvertently transferred to your network.
The loss or theft of a device, whether it’s company-owned or personal, presents a security risk. Your IT department can take steps to safeguard your sensitive information on company computers and devices. But teleworkers may not use the same precautions on their personal machines, which could expose any business information stored there.
What You Can Do
Develop an in-house bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy employees must agree to that can protect your company. Outline the acceptable types of devices and software teleworkers can use. Think about the protocols for passwords, network use, and encryption. Establish termination of employment procedures because, “a company will want to remove its data from an employee’s personal device when he or she leaves.” Employees may not be happy at the loss of their device for a period of time, especially if data is being wiped. That means you also need to keep in mind employees’ rights and privacy when creating your BYOD policy.
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