Adopting a 'bring your own device' (BYOD) strategy in your business could make employees happier and more efficient, according to research by Samsung.
British companies that allowed staff to use their own tech at work saw a 17 percent reduction in their annual communications bill and a 47 percent increase in employee engagement, translating into enhanced productivity for 46 percent of them.
Sunday evening, Monday morning
Most people have access to better technology at home than they do at work. People buy modern, powerful tools like the Samsung Galaxy S4 smart phone or a Series 9 Premium Notebook and it's no wonder they'd prefer to use them at work rather than a three-year old desktop or a clunky company phone.
For growing businesses, at first glance, there's nothing wrong with it. If people have better tools for the job and the company hasn't had to pay for them, the business benefits are attractive, as Samsung's survey found.
Privacy and security at risk
However, there is a potential problem with BYOD: how to ensure security and privacy. For example, what happens if a sales manager downloads a customer database to her own phone and has it stolen or a director's laptop with confidential information on it gets stolen?
According to the ICO, you are still legally responsible for data protection, even if the data is stored on an employee's device.
The risks are real. Samsung's survey of 100 British companies found that 97 percent of them had experienced a security breach in the previous two years, or anticipated that they would have if they allowed employees to bring their own devices into the office.
Protect and survive
Here are some simple tips to ensure that you can embrace BYOD with confidence:
Have a clear policy. Understand your responsibilities and make sure that your employees understand theirs. Be clear about what is acceptable with company data on personal devices and how to protect it. If necessary, explain that you may need to install software to protect and manage that data. Make sure you educate staff about security and make sure you remove company information, passwords and software from employees' devices when they stop working for you.
Protect smart phones. A connected, high-powered smart phone is a powerful computer in its own right. This makes them a target for internet criminals who want to hijack them and steal information. So you need powerful protection such as Samsung Knox, a tool that protects Android phones against malware and data theft as well as making them easier to manage.
Protect laptops. Make sure that all your notebook PCs are protected with up-to-date anti-malware software. Also consider encrypting the hard disks to make sure that thieves can't actually read the information stored on them, even if they have full access to your laptop.
Manage employee devices like your own. Use remote management tools such as Samsung Knox's Mobile Device Management tools to get control over all the devices that store company data. This kind of software gives you the ability to wipe devices remotely, install software updates and ensure that they are properly protected at all times.
Secure printing. Printing can be a weak point in the security chain. Imagine that you print out a pay review spreadsheet from your laptop and someone picks it up from the print tray before you get to the printer. Samsung security solutions can prevent this kind of security blunder.
Use strong passwords. If you have a password that someone can easily guess by looking at your Facebook or LinkedIn profile or one that is simple for a computer program to crack by looking up words in a dictionary, then it's time to change up. A strong password uses a minimum of eight characters, with a combination of letters, numbers and punctuation marks.
'Our analysis highlights the dangerous threat to corporate stability that BYOD poses,' says Graham Long, Vice President Enterprise Business Team at Samsung Electronics. 'The potential to lose customer data and other confidential information through mobile devices [means that] it's crucial that businesses have a highly secure infrastructure as its foundation, together with effective and clear user policy guidelines that are implemented consistently.'