The recent trend towards implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies in companies, both big and small, is actually not a new trend at all. The issues surrounding BYOD have actually been around for many years, going back way before we were all using smartphones and tablets. In fact, I would argue that IT people have more control over remote users and devices than ever before. That’s because there are more and better tools available today to help them do this.
But first, let’s take a look back.
Before the fast, all pervasive, easy to access internet, there was synchronization. This was back in the late ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Companies would supply bulky laptop computers to their remote employees or pay their IT guys to get them setup on their own home computers. Software back then could not be accessed quickly online like we could today. There were no cloud based applications. Things were slow. Dial up slow. “You got mail. Ding!”
So companies synchronized. Remote databases were the norm. The day’s contact management and sales force automation systems (now called CRM or Customer Relationship Management) would be setup up to transfer information to a corporate database every few hours or once a day. Remote workers did their quotes, proposals and correspondence on older versions of Microsoft Word and Excel, saved them to their local hard drives and then emailed them around to each other. Even accounting systems, if you can believe it, were setup to synchronize order, invoice and payment history to those working on the outside.
It was slow. Painfully slow. It didn’t work very well. No one, not even the smartest guys in Silicon Valley. could figure out a simple way to timestamp and coordinate the data of 25 remote employees into a single database without something going wrong. And when things didn’t work right, which they often didn’t, chaos ensued. Data was lost. People yelled. I know this. I remember this. I was the guy setting these things up. I used to have a full head of hair back then.
Fast forward to today and take a look at me now. Age? No. It’s living through the age of synchronization that’s to blame.
It’s funny to me that people are focused on BYOD policies nowadays. Like this is such a new thing. It’s really not. The same security issues existed back then. Sales people, employees, potentially-disgruntled workers were walking around with company data on their own personal devices all the time. OK, so they weren’t phones or tablets but they were still laptops and home-based PCs. Same thing. Same issues. Same exposure to lost data. Haven’t we learned?
Apparently not. Because most of my clients still, years later, do not have a formal BYOD policy. They still don’t employ the right kind of security software to protect the data that’s now floating around on so many more devices. They still ignore the basics of protecting their systems. And they still suffer. Employees steal their corporate data. Information goes missing. The wrong data is used. Unauthorized people gain access to systems.
And many companies don’t invest in the great tools available today to help them keep better control of their remote data and devices. What kinds of tools?
For example, there’s AVG’s IT Security Health Check, a simple checklist of basic security and networking things to review online to make sure you’re doing the very basics of what needs to be done to protect your data, both inside and out. There are just 17 quick questions that make sure you’re doing the right things by way of data access and storage, protective software staff education, third party partners, legal issues, and password protection encryption.
There are a number of mobile security applications that enable remote users to surf and download safely, track their lost or stolen devices, and protect their privacy and private data.
And there’s AVG’s CloudCare, which enables your trusted IT firm or advisor make real-time changes to one PC or a whole network and simplifies the management of your company’s devices. It allows cloud services and devices to be remotely managed from any web browser, so you or your IT provider can activate services with a single click, generate a variety of reports, view real-time alerts to problems, and drag and drop to easily create new policies.
BYOD issues are not new. These same security issues have been around for going on three decades at least. The devices have changed. But, unfortunately, human behavior hasn’t. Fortunately today’s tools aimed at giving you and your IT professional more control over your data are really powerful. Better still they actually work.
December 18, 2013