When you are using your own devices on your personal time, you are only risking your own data. But, when your employees are using their devices for work, they aren’t just putting their data at risk; they are threatening your business as a whole. According to a study by U.S. Bank, roughly one in eight businesses crash and burn after a data breach, so it is abundantly important that you are working hard to secure your endpoints, i.e. your user-facing devices, like computers, smartphones, and IoT tech.
While employing endpoint security solutions in the form of robust security software is a key element of shoring up your endpoints, you should also have rules in place to guide your employees toward correct, safe digital behavior, especially when they are on company time.
BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, is a policy that many organizations began to implement at the beginning of the last decade when the internet was becoming a more critical workplace tool and employees had access to powerful and effective personal devices. Instead of wasting precious startup budget on outfitting an office space with expensive computers, a new small business could rely on its employees’ existing devices for a time.
Unfortunately, employees aren’t as careful with their personal devices as they are with office-supplied tech. You are more likely to see employees engaging with untrustworthy social media, downloading from unreliable websites and otherwise participating in unsavory cyber behavior. Because these are their personal devices, which they need access to outside of work hours, you cannot control employees’ cyber hygiene at all times. Thus, for safety, you should limit the number of personal devices in use at work.
Require Security on Every Device
Every endpoint offers a gateway into your network, so every endpoint needs to be heavily guarded with the right endpoint security solutions. This is relatively easy to maintain if you have an on-site IT team and business-owned tech — you can download security software, monitor user activity and install regular updates outside of working hours, to prevent disruptions in your workforce’s workflow.
If you do permit outside devices, you need to be able to maintain security on these endpoints, as well. You might maintain a vetting process for employees and devices, to ensure that personal devices used for work will integrate with your security platform and practices and to ensure that only responsible employees gain this perk.
Whitelist and Blacklist Apps
Not all apps are appropriate in the workplace. In fact, there are millions of applications that cause direct harm to devices and networks. Yet, if you aren’t taking steps to control what programs run on your office computers, you are almost certain to see some unproductive or downright dangerous applications on business devices.
That’s why you should get in the habit of both whitelisting and blacklisting apps on business devices. Whitelisting is permitting specific apps; blacklisting is prohibiting specific apps. In general, you should blacklist any app that isn’t related to work activities — like video games and other diversions. Then, you should whitelist apps that your employees need for work. Any other programs, your endpoint software might flag, so you can decide whether it belongs on your network.
The biggest mistake you can make is failing to back up your endpoints on a regular basis. Even if your security strategy seems foolproof, someone in your organization could make a mistake that jeopardizes your digital defenses. If you do suffer an attack, recent backups of your devices are immensely valuable, allowing your business to get back up and running almost immediately.
You can set your endpoints to backup automatically, on a schedule, to the cloud or an on-site server. Most security professionals advocate making a backup at least every 24 hours, if not twice per day.
Mandate Password Rules
Finally, passwords are the final line of defense between your business’s data and greedy attackers. If your employees are utilizing simplistic codes to protect their devices and your network, then it is only a matter of time before hackers get access to your information. You need to utilize a system that requires your employees to develop a strong password — one that is at least 12 characters long and includes a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. What’s more, passwords should be changed every three months or so, and duplicate passwords should not be permitted.
Your endpoints are critical elements of your business, and protecting them should be a top priority. By implementing the right rules across your workforce, you should be able to keep your data safer from attack — and keep your business productive and profitable in the future.