How to Give Employees App Freedom Without Sacrificing Data Security

In the BYOD era, employees want to work with the devices and applications of their choice. Yet that desire can conflict with IT's job of keeping company data safe and secure. It's a balancing act that IT departments face, no matter which type of device employees use to get work done. 

A new study from Marble Security finds that both Apple iOS and Google Android, the two platforms with the bulk of market share, are susceptible to security breaches. The challenge for IT is how to juggle security priorities without alienating employees or squashing their productivity. 

Start at the App Level 

"The 'bring your own device' (BYOD) trend is transitioning to 'bring your own applications' (BYOA) as users download more and more apps to share data, increase productivity and stay connected," Garrett Larsson, CEO and co-founder of mobility security company Mojave Networks, told BetaNews. "If any application running on a mobile device connected to the network is insecure, it can put highly sensitive corporate data at risk.”

In a BYOD environment, IT still needs to ensure that corporate data is secure on those devices. Employees, however, are often hesitant to give their employers access to the personal apps and data on those devices, writes Nikfar Khaleeli, director of product marketing at Good Technology, on The Mobility Hub. Mobile app containers that separate corporate and personal data are one solution. 

App containerization secures corporate data without accessing employees' personal information on those devices. When apps are secured this way, they still should be able to communicate and share data with other apps that need to access the data, says Khaleeli.

Tread Lightly to Appease Employees 

No matter what type of security procedures companies enact, they should be balanced with giving employees the tools they need and want to be productive. Security is important, but so too are engaged, motivated and connected employees. 

John McGeachie, vice president of Evernote Business, suggests that companies let employees bring their own devices — and choose the software, hardware and apps they use. 

“That goes beyond particular platform or software allegiance,” McGeachie told Chief Mobility Officer. “It’s saying, ‘Let’s let people combine the best set of tools that helps them be effective at their jobs and then get out of the way.’ If you look at successful companies, that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

That freedom includes not just the device and operating system, but also the apps that employees download on their smartphones and tablets. 

“With an app marketplace and ecosystem, employees can choose what the best tool for them is to be productive and successful, and you’re distributing this discovery and vetting of tools that was traditionally done by a core team of IT people,” McGeachie says.

Giving employees the freedom to choose which tools they use, while ensuring access to company data and apps is secure, is a win-win. Employees get the technologies they need to get work done, and companies maintain security and access standards. 

Image via Can Stock Photo