The Risks of BYOD for Small Businesses

Phil Evans, VP EMEA of Datacastle, discusses how your small business can successfully reap the benefits of mobile working

The Risks of BYOD for Small Businesses

Start-up companies, particularly those associated with new technology, encounter a plethora of difficulties when laying the foundations of a new business structure, and unfortunately, the failure of start ups is not uncommon. Without a large venture capital investment or sound business model, many businesses fall at the first hurdle.

To combat this issue, start-ups and SMEs are increasingly turning to a bring your own device (BYOD) model of working because of the benefits a mobile workforce can offer. This also dramatically reduces start-up costs as employees will already own devices and the capability for employees to flexibly work from home or on the road, and a shift in asset responsibility from the company to the employer. However, if the correct precautions are not undertaken, the caveat of implementing a mobile workforce could be catastrophic.

With the emergence of smart-phones and mobile devices within the workplace, a whole new threat has arisen for start-ups as now over 50% computer purchases are laptops and notebooks. This consumerisation of IT has left start-up companies vulnerable and at risk of new threats, causing endless development setbacks for SMEs and ultimately contributing towards a large number of start-ups failing within their first year.

Over the past year, 275 businesses in Europe have lost a combined 72,000 laptops but usually the most valuable asset lost is not the actual device itself. The most vulnerable point of security for start-ups operating with a BYOD model is the actual protection on the user’s device. This is because the mobile device has direct access to, or contains sensitive data which if lost or stolen could cause a small business to flounder.

This only highlights the importance of end-point security, which many start-ups completely overlook. However, to help start-ups, security companies are now beginning to provide the option to pay per user, resulting in initial costs to be significantly lower for new businesses, a small price to pay compared to the potential risk.

Avoiding data breaches and data loss is the most crucial way to effectively avoid cyber-scamming. In order to benefit from BYOD without being left vulnerable, start-ups must implement robust endpoint security to protect the sensitive data on an employee’s device.

The solution should also treat a data breach and data loss as separate risks, but for the same price and not at the expense of each other. Many endpoint security solutions can become a cause of data loss when they leap into action to prevent a data breach. The best answer is to have automatic, continuous backup and restore integrated with your endpoint security solution.

Automatic, continuous backup and restore security solutions that ensure protection against both the risk of data loss and a data breach use a method which destroys the data on the device remotely, then restores all of the lost data to a new device meaning that thieves who come across the lost device cannot access any sensitive information. This enables you to be aggressive and take no risks against the threat of a data loss or a data breach from lost or stolen devices because data can always be recovered.

Most of the time employees will not be aware of what information on their device is actually sensitive, nor be able to fully recall what information has been lost in the event of a lost device. This is where the biggest problem lies. Start-ups trying to get their business running, all of a sudden have their customer’s details, financial details, strategic plans etc out in the wilderness with no way of finding out what was lost or how to get it back.

A BYOD model is becoming an increasingly popular way of working for start-ups, due to how much it cut downs the costs of starting up and increases the flexibility of the workforce. However, as BYOD becomes more popular, the number of data breaches and data loss victims increase due to the lack of understanding of the potential risks.

In 2009, 220 million records were breached, and as Gartner predicts that the number of start-ups and SMEs adopting a BYOD model is expected to grow 70%-75% within the next two years, it is crucial that the need for endpoint security isn’t undervalued.

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