Like it or not, the 21st century is “BYOT” = BRING YOUR OWN TECHNOLOGY!
We all are connected to the world via our personal tools of smart phones, laptops and tablets. Business owners have also profited with their BYOT employees being available to work 24/7. No longer do you have to stay late at work and miss your daughter’s Little League game. You can watch the game, work on your smart phone, laptop or tablet without sacrificing quality time for family.
BYOT has become a plus to employees, but could be a minus for their employers. To open the cyber door for employees’ personal technology, business owners have left their IT systems vulnerable to cyber assault. Allowing employees access to their corporate email and intranet means companies have to disable some of their network security. Without the protection of network-level virus scanning, an employee’s unprotected personal technology could be the source of a potential corporate cyber attack. Understandibly, large corporations are not discussing this big hole in cybersecurity.
Companies who have contracts with government, health care or financial service firms, could lose business due to IT security breaches. Those firms could cancel their contracts if your employee’s BYOT addiction gives cyber thieves an entrance into your company’s computer network. If customer’s personal data such as Social Security or credit card numbers are stolen, your company and not your employee, pays the price.
Another BYOT possible problem for business owners is a business audit by the Business Software Alliance. A business owner could be held responsible for unlicensed software their employees use on their personal technology while at work. While this legal area is gray presently, it could cost a business thousands of dollars in penalities and legal fees.
How can a business owner avoid these potential BYOT pitfalls?
Simple: design a “No BYOT” policy!
Spell it out clearly in employee handbooks, make every employee reads it and signs it. This action will make you a hit with your company lawyers and possibly save you court fees.
This action will make your employees unhappy and they will take their BYOT activities secret. However, there is a way for companies to stop an employee BYOT revolt and still protect your corporate hide.
Using cloud-based applications may not eliminate the risk of employee BYOT problems, but it reduces them. Cloud computing keep important company information on your server and not in your employee’s personal computer.
Before you declare “a state of emergency” at your company, think about your unique business situation.
If your company has 20 persons or less, BYOT may not be a major issue. In a recent AllBusiness article on BYOT risks, one small business owner said he knew his employees “well enough to tell them they’re on their own when they use their own equipment, so tech support isn’t an issue.”
If you’re a larger corporation, you still have to be flexible. Have a strong BYOT company policy to protect yourself, but give yourself a little “wiggle room.”
Major corporations with a well-crafted BYOT policy can’t afford to upset individuals who are an asset to your bottom line. For employees, 24/7 access to family is more important than 24/7 access to work.
In the 21st century, all companies have to be extremely aware of BYOT risks. But, you can not have armed guards taking employees’ smartphones, laptops and tablets at the company’s front door.