Smartphones are now tiny computers that enable users to access multiple email accounts and systems. Nobody wants to carry two phones wherever they go and many have opted to use their personal devices for everything.
This ability to bring your own device for work, however, comes with big risks to both employees and employers. Here are some of the biggest problems and how companies can try to address them:
1. Litigation Waiting to Happen
The list of potential claims is endless because the devices are incredibly sophisticated. For example, the ability or expectation for hourly employees to access work email can (and has) resulted in large litigation for off the clock or overtime claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Or, when employees use the devices to post comments on social media about their jobs it may also create issues with collective bargaining agreements. Litigation is expensive for everyone regardless of the circumstances. Some ways to avoid this risk include:
2. Easy Targets for Hackers
Smartphones are easy targets for hackers for many reasons. These devices store data in multiple places within the device that are not all equally secure. Personal apps on smartphones can leave the backdoor open to a savvy hacker to access the entire device. Accessing company email on the device can provide access to the company server from the phone. Nothing is perfect, but here are some ways to help improve security:
3. Trade Secrets Can Walk Out the Door
Personal devices can make it easy for trade secrets to walk away when they are stolen or the employee leaves. Many companies have written policies preventing disclosure of this information by employees. Enforcement of these policies often requires some expensive litigation. Avoid the complication and expense by leveraging technology. Here are some ways to limit the mobility of such sensitive information:
The luxury of carrying only one smartphone comes with high costs. Employees need to understand what those costs may be in order to protect the data (both personal and company). Companies choosing to let people bring their own devices need to implement clear written policies, communicate the policies, and verify that their systems have adequate capacity. This area will only get more complicated and there is no fool proof solution. However, both employees and employers can take steps to build the right foundation as technology continues to rapidly change.