How To Balance BYOD’s Convenience With Security

How To Balance BYOD’s Convenience With Security

Having recently written blogs touting the uses and benefits of the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) phenomenon that is sweeping our corporate landscape, I had to take a moment to consider the situation from a different perspective. Having done your homework, I am sure that you are aware of mobile learning’s (mLearning) positive attributes.  With employees being able to access training courses and company databases from almost anywhere on their tablets and smartphones, unprecedented flexibility and ease of access are at their fingertips.

However, with this freedom comes the disconcerting possibility that such things as internal payroll and proprietary information could possibly be compromised either by accident or through unauthorized access.  Either way, your company is in a vulnerable position that needs to be addressed.  BYOD is not going anywhere.  If anything, with more and more Millennials entering the workforce, it is on the rise.

The “old days” of banning mobile devices at work have gone the way of the floppy disk.  For employees, use of mobile represents a new way of working – bringing flexibility and ease of work whenever and wherever they are.  The new generation of employee are not about to give up something they regard as a  “right” rather than a“privilege.”  With more and more companies falling into step with this line of thought, anyone who insists on playing it old-school will quickly find themselves with a dearth of new talent and employee dissatisfaction running rampant.

Just what is the solution to this potentially formidable problem?   The answer not surprisingly, involves your LMS – the platform upon which your eLearning is built.  As corporate blogger Arunima Majumdar says “The solution is not to ban the policy of BYOD but put up measures to ensure the security of corporate data – across all devices being used to access the data.” 

Here are a few of the more relevant and effective suggestions to secure company information: 

  • Keep app communication to a minimum.  In some cases LMSs are available on tablets and smartphones as apps.  They then will automatically confer with other company-centric apps on the device such as scheduling and company intranet.  This potentially leaves far to many doors open for unauthorized access.  Such connectivity should be kept to a minimum and ideally, only be made accessible by the system administrator. 
  • Maximum LMS Capability.  While LMSs are becoming more sophisticated and powerful, so too are the programs they support.  With the advent of advanced learning technologies such as gamification, characterization and interactive role-play, it is in your best interest to confirm that your LMS can support such activities.  Having a LMS with a built-in media player is an excellent way to ensure security, as it guarantees that learners do not have to download media files (dangerous) to their mobile device.
  • Digital Security Enforcement.  This is the policy of making sure you have active security protocols in place to block unauthorized access to any company organizational system.  This is especially effective when addressing lost or stolen phones and tablets.  The most popular method of access control is to simply freeze the system on the device after a certain number of invalid attempts are tried.  No one gets in without the proper pass protocol.  Needless to say, it is very important to emphasise to your staff that keeping track of their passwords in another app on the same device will neutralize any effect of this security measure.  Memorization is the best policy! 
  • Firewalls and Passwords.  This is related to digital security enforcement, but does offer independent solutions of its own.  Most contemporary LMSs come with pre-installed security features that protect the information on that system.  However, further steps can be taken to ensure data integrity.  Passwords are of course a must for any employee wishing to access company systems.

On top of this, firewalls can be created to ensure that only authorized devices can access the LMS.  This means that even if an employee has a valid password, they will be unable to access any information from a device that is not theirs or has not been previously vetted.  This practice directly addresses the danger of password sharing/theft.

BYOD then, does not have to be an insurmountable issue in today’s workplace.  There is indeed a middle path that you can follow.  Employees can happily operate in the new device-rich environment that they are comfortable with, and the powers that be can take ease, and rest assured that critical company information is well looked after in this new digital age.

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