​How to manage data in the BYOD office

Tips on how to secure data in your organisation

Picture: AJ LEON, Flickr

Picture: AJ LEON, Flickr

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has rapidly become an extremely popular way for established and up-and-coming businesses alike to improve productivity in the workplace. There are numerous benefits, including increased flexibility for staff, cost-savings to businesses, reduced training times, and improved employee satisfaction, as they’re able to work with a device they’re both familiar and comfortable with. While there can be considerable benefits, BYOD has brought a number of unique considerations to the workplace for the IT department.

You’ll sometimes hear IT Managers will sometimes speak about “Grey IT”. This basically refers to devices or programs that are unofficially attached to a company’s network – they’re not actively harmful, but they’re not really meant to be there either, hence the “grey” designation. At its best, grey IT can serve as an important place for innovative new developments – new programs, more efficient processes, and so on. But it’s nonetheless a phenomenon that has been largely discouraged in the interests of protecting the network. BYOD, on the other hand, is functionally a grey IT network made official, and this brings a variety of challenges to the modern office that haven’t really been encountered before – the potential consequences of device loss, data theft and viruses, for instance.

Clear policies

Maintaining security of information is everyone’s business, not solely the responsibility of the IT department. But in order for BYOD to be successful, the IT department needs to be effectively communicating these issues to the wider staff body. The easiest way is typically during induction, at which point the policies – and the consequences for violating them – are clearly outlined, and the new employee is required to sign a binding agreement. It should also be clearly explained that these policies are not in place to “spy” on the private lives of staff; rather, the purpose is to maintain data security. In this way, the business has a means for recourse if inappropriate usage does occur.

Remote control

Data is an invaluable commodity in this day and age – so your business should have relevant tools in place to protect against unwanted intruders and data theft. Again, this becomes more difficult with the advent of BYOD, but is certainly possible. Some companies have handled this via specific apps or web-based programs that contain all of the relevant tools that a staff member would require in order to carry out their workplace tasks. This has the advantage of maintaining the positive attributes of BYOD while also allowing a relatively closed system for work purposes. Perhaps most importantly, it means that access and data can be remotely restricted – or deleted – from the central office. This becomes particularly important when staff move on to a new role or are abruptly terminated, as it can be done with speed, preventing any malicious data theft or dissemination.

Backing up

A comprehensive back-up plan is nothing short of essential for any business, BYOD-based or not. But BYOD does have its own unique challenges. There are logistical concerns, particularly when it comes to mobile devices – they have intermittent internet connections, which means that they can only be backed up periodically. In turn, they may involve additional data costs that staff – and you – are unwilling to pay.

If you’re using browser or cloud-based programs, this will address some of the issues; but as with terms of use, one of the best ways to address this situation early on is to include your backup policy as part of the induction. As with the terms of use, it’s then possible to clearly outline the expectations and potential consequences.

In practical terms, enabling auto-backup for mobile devices as soon as the employee enters a WiFi area can aid in the logistics of this situation. If the employee is office-based, then this ensures that backups will be occurring on a regular basis, and ensuring the integrity of your data. Alternatively, scheduling regular updates can also aid in the process.

With the increasingly diverse ways data is accrued and stored, it’s essential to have solid plans and policies around the way your business’ information is stored. Having the right steps in place from an early stage ensures that BYOD can be used to best effect in your office.

Tony Drewitt is General Manager Acronis ANZ

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags BYODmobilitybusinessbusiness management

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Drewitt

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?