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3 ways a BYOD policy for your business will make your life easier

In an effort to stay current, many companies (even the US government) are moving their solutions and tools to the cloud. Everything is interconnected via the internet, so it doesn’t matter whether the staff is in the building or not.

There are countless benefits to this change, but migrating to the cloud has its own potenial problems. Here is one of the most basic one. How do you handle employees working from their own devices? Do you provide employees with company devices? Or do you just let them use their own if they want to?

While there are benefits to both approaches, a solid BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy can make the whole thing a lot easier on you. Especially if you lead a smaller company with limited capital.  You get the assurance of good cybersecurity practices, and your employees get the flexibility they want.

If you BYOD policy is well planned.

Who doesn’t want lower overhead?

You can’t zero-out your IT budget. Not unless you want your staff to ditch all technology. (We don’t recommend that.) But there are ways to bring your tech-based overhead down.

Like utilizing BYOD.

Providing a device for every employee has a steep upfront cost, especially for an SMB or startup just getting on its feet. Even a cheap laptop will run in the hundreds-of-dollars. More specialized equipment, like Apple products for your design team, will cost even more.

We recommend providing equipment that’s essential to your staff to do their jobs. But if you already do that and they want to use their own tablet or laptop, as well, that benefits you—without an additional cost.

Factor in the increase in productivity, and it’s an automatic win for you.

Speedier training

Think about this: if you could get a boost in productivity with no investment of time or money, would you?

That’s what you get with a BYOD policy.

When your staff is empowered to bring in their own device, they’ll be working on equipment they already know and like.

No training. No expense. No lost time. You’ve preemptively checked off one item on their training itinerary.

Better equipment

People tend to update their personal equipment more often than their employers do. (And many businesses tend to hang onto their equipment much longer than they should). Newer equipment means tech tools that operate faster with fewer breakdowns and repairs.

Most people replace their personal devices when it’s convenient or when a newer device comes out, regardless of the performance of their current device. Businesses tend to replace their equipment when the old device breaks down, which could mean that it ends up being years out of date.

Long story short—most of the time a BYOD policy will mean your employees have greater access to newer equipment.

The policy itself

BYOD, in general, brings several benefits to the table. But without a written policy the practice can cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Here are several areas worth covering in the policy.

  • Acceptable use
  • What devices qualify for use
  • Whether the in-house IT department will perform repairs on personal devices or not
  • Whether the company will reimburse/subsidize for the use/repair of personal devices

And most importantly . . .

  • Security policies

The biggest downside to BYOD is the potential security risk. Since your IT team doesn’t directly manage these devices, you have limited control over what the user is or isn’t doing with them.

Your security policy should definitely include requirements for anti-virus and firewall use. Perhaps the IT team can give it a once-over as part of the employee’s onboarding process, or check in every so often to make sure the device is functioning properly.

A required best-practices training course could also be a good means of keeping the device safe for use on your network. And you should absolutely train employees to understand the inherent risks of using public Wi-Fi. Sure, it’s free, but it may not always keep your company data safe.

Nothing matters as much as security.

A BYOD policy has a lot of benefits—for your business and your employees. Just make sure you think through all the potential pitfalls.Do your research and draft a policy keeps your company data safe. And if you need some input from some experts in the field, don’t hesitate to give your managed IT services provider a call.

5 simple ways to achieve IT device security

Hackers, malware authors, and identity thieves are all on the prowl for ways to access your IT devices and harvest your enterprise data. Fortunately, you can take measures to defend yourself by following a few common-sense steps. Below, we’ll go over the 5 most important yet accessible protections that you can take to keep your IT devices safe.

Use Strong Passwords

This is rule #1 of protecting your IT devices, but far too many businesses continue to overlook it. Set a minimum length for employee passwords, and enforce a certain degree of complexity in the characters (such as capital letters, numbers, and symbols).

Make sure employees don’t use the same password in multiple locations and consider implementing two-factor authentication, which combines passwords with another layer of security (e.g. a code given to the user in a phone call or email). If passwords are stored on your local network, you should encrypt or hash them so they’ll be useless to any hackers who break in and find them.

Install Patches and Upgrades

Installing new software updates is like going to the dentist—you may not particularly enjoy it, but it’s essential to keep yourself protected. Software updates contain valuable bug fixes and patches that cover up security vulnerabilities.

In fact, countless data breaches could have been prevented if IT had installed new security patches in a timely manner. The Equifax 2017 breach, for example, occurred due to a vulnerability in third-party software (the patch had been available for months before the attack).

Related Content: How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Back Up Your Data

IT devices, particularly mobile ones like smartphones and tablets, are highly susceptible to physical damage — which can obliterate all the data they contain.

But when you back up your data in the cloud, your data will be safe from physical damage. Whether your laptop refuses to turn on, your smartphone is stolen, or your workstations are wiped out by a natural disaster, your data will be okay and easy to recover.

Related Content: 8 Things to Include in the Perfect Disaster Recovery Plan

Avoid Suspicious Emails

Emails remain a common attack vector for bad actors to spread malware or steal your personal data. If your employees receive an unusual email from someone they don’t know, they should report it to your security staff. They should also never open unsolicited email attachments.

“Phishing” emails attempt to impersonate a trusted entity, such as a bank or government institution, in order to trick you into providing sensitive information. Train your employees on how to recognize phishing messages, or use an email provider with advanced phishing detection capabilities.

Use Secure Connections

If you connect your IT devices to the Internet using an unsecured connection, it’s all too easy for malicious third parties to “listen in,” eavesdropping on your potentially confidential data. Never use a public network unless you’re protecting your connection with a VPN that encrypts the packets you send and receive.

Instead, make sure you use secure protocols such as SSL, TLS, and HTTPS, which will help safeguard your sensitive data. When browsing the web, look for a padlock icon next to the URL, which indicates that the website uses a secure HTTPS connection.

 

Want to keep reading? Check out 5 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer.

Our 2017 Year-End Tech Tips

‘Tis the season for wrapping up end-of-year business matters, and there’s no better time to start thinking about 2018 and your technology. Tech issues have a way of snowballing (to stick with the wintery metaphor).

Personally, I like to make some time at the end of the year to do my annual tech tune-up. These are tasks that are often put on the back burner. So, here are a few tech tips before you get started again for next year.

Tech Tip 1: Cleanup Everything

Go through old documents and make sure they are properly filed on your computer or cloud storage. Clearing out the old pictures, videos and music from your mobile devices is part of the process. They’re certainly very tedious tasks, but very rewarding once accomplished.

This is when I think I can regain control of my email. There is nothing more daunting than knowing I have 10,000 emails sitting in my inbox. Make time to manage your email folders, bulk file some of these emails, delete most, and try using rules to help you prioritize your incoming email for next year.

Tech Tip 2: Review Your Backup and Disaster Recovery

The end of the year is a good time to test your current backup strategies. For example, it may be necessary to adjust or come up with a process that meets new compliances. Backups are the cornerstone of all your disaster recovery plans.

The biggest questions around backups tend to focus on the time to recovery and archiving data policies. Do you have accounts that depend on you to work all the time? How long do you need to maintain these records? Updated backup plans will help your company to recover from a cyber compromise, major equipment failure, water damage or catastrophic mistake made by one of your staff members.

I can’t emphasize enough the necessity of having plans that include keeping your data securely stored many miles outside your region. Consider cloud solutions that automatically safeguard your data in offsite secure locations.

Tech Tip 3: Update Your Software and Devices

Your office and network have more devices than you may realize. Create an inventory of those devices and run all necessary updates. There are plenty of devices you don’t regularly update that should be part of
this process. Routers, wireless access points, security cameras, printers and copiers are often overlooked, but they should get updates along with all your regular computing devices. You should update your applications, operating systems, anti-virus software, iPhones and tablets on a regular basis, not only for new features but more importantly, for timely security updates.

Tech Tip 4: Update Your Passwords

This year shed more light on the cybersecurity issues facing many organizations. Following good password management practices is critical. If it has been a while, now is the best time to change and update your passwords. The need to use passwords with long complex characters and that are unique to each site can’t be overstated. A good New Year’s resolution would be to start using a password manager to help you keep up with the task, such as LastPass or 1Password.

Tech Tip 5: Review Client and Employee Data Safeguards

An annual review of all company and client data is important for obvious reasons but may have compliance implications as well. Putting safeguards in place can help to prevent fraud and identity theft, as well as enhance customer confidence and trust.

Safeguard reviews should start with an observance of HIPAA, IRS guidelines or other industry standards that may be necessary for your business. You will want to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of all data by restricting access and disclosure. This may not be a costly effort, but one that takes awareness and often simple procedures. Safeguarding Taxpayer Data from the IRS offers many ideas on how to approach the topic, even if you are not an accounting firm. Some of these steps are non-technical too. Where are the paper files kept? Who has access?

Have a Happy Holidays!

If you are looking for ways to meet these ever-increasing compliance requirements and keep your data secure, contact us today.