News Feature | August 31, 2015

How To Help Your IT Clients Leverage BYOD — And Protect Their Data

By Rick Delgado, contributing writer

How To Help Your IT Clients Leverage BYOD — And Protect Their Data

With all the benefits that bring your own device (BYOD) policies bring to an organization, it’s no wonder companies are so eager to adopt their own. BYOD has the tendency to bring out more productivity in employees simply by allowing them to use personal devices they’re already comfortable with. Businesses have noticed this trend and are happily making BYOD part of their current and future strategies. In fact, research from Gartner shows that up to half of all businesses will stop providing devices to employees by the year 2017, indicating an even greater rate of BYOD adoption.

All those BYOD benefits, however, could come with a price. Of most notable concern is the issue of security, particularly when it comes to business files and data. If companies really want to get the most out of BYOD, they’ll need to address the risks posed to business file security.

Part of the reason BYOD aids in improved productivity is that it allows workers to have nearly instantaneous access to a company’s files at almost any time, provided they’re somewhere with an Internet connection. This isn’t just an added perk to BYOD; it is part of what makes bring your own device work so well to begin with. Without that connection to a file server, employees wouldn’t be able to get much work done on their mobile devices. The main problem, as can be seen, is that this unfettered access could be an easy gateway to others if the device should be stolen or hacked. In such situations, outside attackers could grab hold or damage a company’s most sensitive data.

Other problems regarding file security arise when an employee leaves the company. This might be because the employee simply found a job elsewhere or because they were fired. Either way, access to a business’s files may remain, even if a person no longer has ties with that company. This increases the security risk, expanding the potential of unauthorized file access. Also of concern is when employees use their personal devices for file sharing. Often this is done through programs that haven’t received approval from a company’s IT department. If done using an unsecure program, the risks of losing data or having unwanted eyes look at the files only increases.

Businesses have two issues to look at when confronting BYOD and file security. On the one hand, they want to maximize the benefits of BYOD, and that means granting as much freedom as possible to their employees. On the other hand, addressing file security usually means more restrictions and limitations. Balancing out these two conflicting ideas requires a delicate touch from business owners. One way to tackle the issue is to place restrictions not on the devices but on the data itself. These solutions include FTP, which allows companies to create certain permissions on file access, modifying it according to specific devices. This essentially grants businesses the ability to only allow access to certain people at certain times. Since this is done from a central location, it takes into account the possibility of devices getting lost, stolen, or hacked, while also addressing any problems that crop up when an employee leaves the company.

Other solutions deal with the devices themselves. Some programs, like SecuriSync, can be installed across all the personal devices used at a business. The file sharing program provides a platform all employees can use to transfer information. Administrators have a high level of control over what data and files can be shared and who has access to them. This solution can also control the security of each device by remotely changing passwords on devices that are lost or stolen. In addition to those features, many file sharing solution programs also allow businesses to back up their protected files, ensuring the necessary information is always available even in cases of disaster.

Companies will continue to try to get the most out of BYOD as the trend continues to grow in popularity. Ignoring the security issues related to file sharing, however, is just asking for trouble. Luckily, plenty of solutions are available that help to preserve the benefits of bring your own device while making sure all files and data are protected from those who would misuse it. It’s up to each individual business to ensure those solutions are applied before real problems do arise.