Bring your own device (BYOD): Not just an IT issue
A recent survey by Ovum revealed that 67% of employees who own a smartphone, and 69% who own a tablet, use them for work purposes.
It may increase productivity and flexibility for employees, and reduce costs for employers, but there are drawbacks. Another survey shows that over half of all employees never consider the security implications when uploading or downloading data to their device.
There could be a number of risks associated with this, including monitoring and control over use and storage of information. The employer, as a data controller, is also responsible for ensuring that the processing of personal data under its control remains compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998. In the event of a breach (whether deliberate or accidental) it would need to show it has secured, controlled or deleted all personal data on a device and guarded against unauthorised use.
Allowing employees to access and use company software without checking the terms of your IT licences may also leave an employer open to claims for breach of contract or IP infringement if the terms of that licence do not allow for use on such devices. Support and maintenance providers may also refuse (at least without an extra charge) to support employees' personal devices, potentially leaving your information and data at much greater risk if you have to rely on a employee ensuring that they have installed all security patches and protections on their device.
These risks could be minimised by:
- ensuring that HR and IT departments collaborate on a BYOD policy which also ties in with the organisation's IT, data protection, disciplinary and possibly social media policies;
- arranging proper training; and
- checking whether your insurance cover would pay out if company information was lost or misused via an employee's device.
Alternatively, employers could consider protecting their data security by looking at the IT solutions available which specifically address the issues raised by BYOD.
Key action point:
- Our feature length article, which first appeared in People Management Daily, can be viewed here.