Protect info when employees – and their devices – leave

Companies need a plan to protect data when current employees bring personal devices to work. But they also need to prepare for when people leave the organization. 

BYOD creates a number of new security and legal questions. One that a lot of organizations don’t have an answer for yet: What happens to confidential company data held on a personal smartphone once that employee quits or is terminated?

Companies need to come up with an answer sooner rather than later — otherwise, there will be no way to keep confidential data from walking out the door with a personal device.

The first step is having a formal process for participating in the BYOD program. That way the company will at least know which employees use personal devices when the time comes that something must be done.

Second, installing mobile device management (MDM) software on devices can help companies remotely wipe data, if necessary. There are also tools available that can allow phones to be split into work and personal halves, allowing the company to quickly wipe only the business-related data and apps.

Keep data centralized

Another technique that can also help avoid other security issues: Minimize the amount of data that’s stored locally on personal devices.

By keeping everything stored on the company’s servers and accessed through the cloud, IT can simply remove an employee’s access privileges once that person is no longer employed by the organization.

Look at other policies

While there are some steps companies can take to hang on to their data, the fact is it’s really easy for departing employees to take digital information with them, regardless of whether they had participated in a BYOD program.

The good news is many existing policies should protect the company from misuse of that information, says a recent CIO.com article. That includes confidentiality, nondisclosure and noncompete agreements.

Implementing a BYOD program could give organizations a good chance to review those policies and make sure they’re protected.

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