With the summer over and autumn upon us, a typical next step for Brits is to immediately re-live the exotic locations they have visited. And more often than not, work colleagues are first in the firing line.
Recent studies suggest that the average holidaymaker takes 300 pictures using their smartphone while they are away on vacation. It’s indicative of how essential these devices have become – a recent survey suggested Britons would rather lose their keys (56%) than their smartphone or tablet (44%).
Yet, often these devices are the same ones that employees use for work. If this is the case, you could find your precious memories have vanished the same day that you return to the office. Employees could be at risk of losing data on their devices if:
- They are reported stolen
- Workers are issued a new company phone
- There is a data security breach at the organisation
- There is an IT infrastructure change or upgrade.
While the line between work and personal devices is becoming increasingly blurred (54% of us use a smartphone or tablet provided by our employer), at the same time workers don’t want employers to have control over their personal data. The increasing reliance on mobile devices for both personal and professional use brings these privacy and security issues to a head.
While employers must be able to exercise control over devices to protect company data, employees may be concerned about privacy invasion, or that they are at risk of losing important personal data – such as holiday photos. So when returning to work from their summer holiday for example, employees ought to review their company’s BYOD policy and how it might affect them.
Is Your Personal Data Safe?
Many BYOD programmes are built around IT systems that aren’t able to distinguish between personal and corporate data. And with remote lock and wipe technology now available, in the event of unauthorised access (whether real or perceived), all content on the device may be wiped and the user locked out.
With approximately 264 mobile phone thefts reported in the UK every day, of course these can be useful functions, but since they are intrusive and BYOD devices are user-owned, such measures should only be implemented with full disclosure to the user that their personal device will be altered and controlled by the IT group. If the organisation has a BYOD programme, employees should ensure they’re aware of the mobile device management measures in place within that.
Is There Anything You Wouldn’t Want Your Boss To See?
Britons state that over half (57%) of data on their mobile device is not for their employer’s eyes. And in a recent survey of employees across EMEA, when asked how they would feel if their personal data was accessed by their IT department, around half of all users described their reaction as “angry.” A further 41 percent of employees in Europe would feel “violated” by this news.
Without the right mobile device management tools to properly manage what can and cannot be seen on a BYOD smartphone, an IT technician may have access to an employee’s personal apps for example. Employees should be clear on what their workplace’s visibility level is on this, and whether they could be at risk of an invasion of privacy.
Distinguishing Between Personal & Professional
In order to solve the conflicting issues of privacy and security that employers and their employees face, there needs to be a viable solution to separating work and personal data. Ideally this would involve a separate, encrypted area provisioned on devices for work applications and content. This gives the IT department full control over the corporate information in the encrypted space, but no visibility into personal areas of the device, thereby protecting employee privacy and corporate data.
While more sophisticated BYOD solutions such as this are coming to the market, many organisations aren’t quite there yet. Until they are, employees returning to work this autumn should carefully consider the terms of their workplace’s BYOD policy, or they may find themselves leaving those holiday memories at the door.