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Contributed by: Steven Bearak, CEO, IdentityForce
The digital shift in work styles of the 21st century has intersected our personal and professional lives more than ever. We’ve never been more connected to each other. At all times, across all devices, employees are interconnected – not only with each other but also across your company’s systems. And, it’s quite routine for employees to use their own personal computers and mobile devices to perform their jobs. So many organizations have grown into “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) companies that it has essentially become the norm.
According to research from Markets and Markets, 50 percent of North American businesses have already adopted a formal BYOD policy. This trend makes sense as Millennials often referred to as the digital natives, now make up the majority of the workforce. Businesses have embraced these policies to appeal to this increasing talent pool, as this generation is very decisive when it comes to technology preferences.
BYOD has many advantages and is often encouraged by Information Technology (IT) professionals. A study by Cisco showed that 69 percent of IT decision makers were in favor of BYOD. One of the benefits uncovered in this study is increased productivity, as employees save at least 81 minutes per week by using their own devices.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and BYOD go hand-in-hand, in that they both influence how we work and interact every day. According to Digitalist Magazine, in 2008 there were officially more devices connected to the Internet than there were human beings. That number continues to explode. Current projections expect there will be more than 30 billion connected devices by 2020.
While BYOD policies provide people with a tangible connection between their personal and professional lives, help to increase productivity and communication, and can save companies money, a poorly-implemented plan can make you and your employees vulnerable to security risks.
“As workforces become more mobile, the risk of data loss has grown exponentially. Everyone has access to sensitive information across their devices. From corporate email to payroll information, or human resources systems, this data can become exposed in a variety of different ways.”
As workforces become more mobile, the risk of data loss has grown exponentially. Everyone has access to sensitive information across their devices. From corporate email to payroll information, or human resources systems, this data can become exposed in a variety of different ways.
For one, these portable devices can easily be lost, misplaced, or stolen. If they fall into the wrong hands it could lead to a disaster. It’s critical to ensure that all employees protect their devices with secure passwords or pins. For an added level of security, your IT and Information Security teams should have the ability to completely wipe the device as soon as it’s reported missing. Even with these security measures in place, an experienced hacker can still gain access and steal data.
Another risk of BYOD is exposure to malware. Employees can access whatever websites or apps that your company might otherwise block. And, the onus is on each individual user to update their operating systems and security protocols when the latest versions come out. This leaves the door open for viruses that can compromise all the data stored or accessible from each device.
With employees constantly on-the-go, there is no way for companies to control Wi-Fi usage. If connected to an unsecured network, your employees will be vulnerable to hackers. This is a common tactic used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data or personal information that they can sell on the Dark Web.
Whether your organization is BYOD-friendly or not, the risk of cyber attacks is ever-present for companies of all sizes, in all industries. 2017 saw more data breaches than any year in recorded history. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported that there were 1,293 total breaches, compromising more than 174 million records. That’s 45 percent more than 2016. This disturbing trend is only expected to continue on an upward trajectory in 2018 and for years to come.
In short, it’s no longer a matter of if, but when your company will be targeted.
“Fraudsters use a variety of methods to infiltrate companies’ systems, and HR departments make an attractive target. Human resources systems are ripe with data.”
Fraudsters use a variety of methods to infiltrate companies’ systems, and HR departments make an attractive target. Human resources systems are ripe with data. Think about all of the touch points there are both inside and outside of the organization. From recruiting talent to onboarding, benefits enrollment, employee relations, and even payroll, these systems are filled with the personally identifiable information (PII) of employees, contractors, and applicants.
If this information is compromised, every single person will be at an increased risk of identity theft. Identity theft is a serious and escalating problem for both employers and employees. It imposes tremendous costs in terms of lost productivity at work and personal stress, and employees may need to spend dozens to hundreds of hours to restore their good name. Beyond these losses, it will hurt employee morale and can even lead to unexpected turnover.
The good news is that more and more employers are committed to protecting their employees, both in the office and outside, and are seeking progressive benefit programs that provide both proactive identity theft monitoring and full-service restoration and recovery services. Human resources professionals are essential stakeholders working alongside IT departments to help train employees on best practices, implement security protocols, and roll out new benefits to help individuals take control of their personal information.
About the Author
Steven Bearak is the CEO of IdentityForce, Inc., a top-rated Identity Theft Protection company commercialized from nearly four decades of experience around personal identity and security services and products. For more information, visit www.identityforce.com.