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You check your work email on your phone, have a copy of your weekly schedule on your personal tablet, and access company docs from both your work and home PCs. Welcome to the age of BYOD: bring your own device.
BYOD policies -- be they official or informal -- allow employees to bring their personally-owned tech devices to the workplace and use them to access privileged information. And with BYOD comes plenty of risk. Here's how corporate counsel can help protect against them.
BYOD Brings Significant Risks
The goal of BYOD is convenience and ease of access. There's no need to switch to a company phone when messaging colleagues, or to lug your work laptop home when plan on doing some late-night drafting. And, of course, there's the savings passed on to employers, who no longer have to issue and maintain company smartphones or tablets. But BYOD comes with a trade off.
Here are just a few examples of the complications a BYOD policy can bring:
Yet despite these risks, BYOD doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Some predict that half of employers will have mandatory BYOD policies by 2017.
Get Your Policies and Data Management in Order
Having clear, easy-to-understand BYOD policies can help mitigate against some of these risks. Employees should be informed that their communications could become the subject of litigation and trained on proper communication protocol.
Those policies should also touch on when it is acceptable to use your own devices for work purposes and when it is not. Consider as well whether you'll need to cover employees' device costs either outright or in part.
As always, such policies should be clearly explained and consistently applied.
You'll probably want to implement a mobile device management strategy as well. So-called "MDM solutions" can help you monitor data usage, prevent misuse of devices, and protect certain types of confidential or regulated data. They can even send employees notices to knock it off when they're playing Candy Crush on company time. And, perhaps most importantly, a good MDM can regularly and selectively wipe corporate data from individual devices, while retaining data for company records.
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