For most companies, the days of giving every employee a company BlackBerry are over. Nowadays, most people would rather work on a device of their choosing, usually an Android smartphone or an iPhone.
This new BYOD culture has its advantages. Namely, it saves the company money on tech (about $1,300 per mobile user), it saves time negotiating and managing bulk contracts, and in many cases, it means the company only pays for a portion of the user’s phone plan. Employees who bring their own devices to work also tend to be happier and more productive, saving about 81 minutes of time per week.
But with these advantages also come new security headaches. BYOD means you’re entrusting your company’s data to your employees and their devices. And with all the recent data breaches that have compromised millions of customers’ personal data, your company can’t afford to take any chances with its devices.
Say Goodbye to One-Size-Fits-All Data Security
BYOD doesn’t just apply to your employees’ phones. Many companies are also allowing their employees to use their own tablets and laptops for work. This means there’s a much broader range of devices and brands that IT has to worry about.
While Active Directory security will cover the majority of Windows laptops and BlackBerry Enterprise Servers will still be useful for a few tactile keyboard–loving phone users, these leave out other brands your employees might be using, most notably Apple.
The Big Apple Security Myth
There is a myth about Apple products that has persisted for over a decade: that Apple products are inherently more secure than Windows products. The typical argument is that, while Windows is fighting new viruses every day, Apple computers have seen almost no viruses since their inception.
While this is true, it’s not because Apple computers are more secure, but rather because Apple holds a smaller share of the PC market. Macs comprise only about 5 percent of the global market share of personal computers. Hackers usually go after the bigger target, which for years has been Windows.
What this means for companies is that employees who own Apple devices are just as vulnerable as everyone else and should be subject to similar security measures. It’s not just viruses that you need to worry about, though.
In 2011, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield potentially compromised the information of nearly 840,000 customers when two MacBook Pros were stolen. Phishing expeditions, device theft, and user error are just as likely to leave you vulnerable as a virus.
The Cost of Securing Employees’ Personal Devices
While the cost of purchasing devices may go down with a BYOD policy, it can be intimidating to consider the cost of securing all these new devices. For instance, Apple provides excellent encryption for individual computers with its FileVault 2, but managing it on a company-wide level is not as easy.
However, along with the increase in BYOD comes an uptick in cloud-based security management solutions. You no longer have to spend upwards of $30,000 deploying an in-house security solution. There are options that make it possible to manage data encryption for less than $100 per user per year.
Allowing employees to bring their own devices can still be a money saver, but your company needs to rethink how it’s handling data security. Big data breaches are constantly in the news these days, which means security is top of mind for your customers. Implementing an airtight business-wide security solution instills confidence in your customers when entrusting your company with their personal information. And when handled correctly, good security might actually make you money in the long run.
Tim Maliyil is the CEO and Data Security Architect for AlertBoot. AlertBoot protects customers from data breaches that damage their credibility, reputation, and business. The company’s managed full disk encryption, email encryption services, and mobile security services deploy within minutes to customers’ PCs, smartphones, and tablets, providing tremendous insight, visibility, and control.