No one wants to carry around multiple smartphones or tablets, but using your personal devices for work raises a host of concerns. Will your personal data be subject to your corporate policies? Can your IT department see everything you do on your device even when you're not at work? Does someone else hold the key to all your data, business and personal?
Here are some things to consider before you decide to go bring your own device into the workplace and, if you decide to go forward, some tips on how to proceed.
Read your company’s mobile device usage policies
You might find that your employer requires control over your device so if it is lost or stolen they can remotely wipe your phone. This will typically delete your personal content, including photos, emails, texts, you name it. Rarely do employers exercise this option, but you should be aware that it is possible.
Your employer could own your email and other data
Many employers will want to back up your emails and documents to keep them centralized and safe if you leave the company. Make sure you are comfortable with the idea that personal email and personal documents could potentially be included in this policy before using your device for work purposes.
Know your industry limitations
In certain cases, such as when dealing with sensitive customer information, medical records, intellectual property, and financial data, consolidating devices might simply be verboten or even illegal. Obviously it isn’t worth jeopardizing your career in the name of convenience.
Do not use your device on unsecured networks
If you decide to use your personal smartphone or tablet to access work applications and data, you must be far more careful about what networks you hop onto. Make sure that they are safe and that all data is encrypted before sending messages or sharing documents.
Set a lock-screen password
While this might seem like a no-brainer, many consumers do not enable this basic safeguard. Swipe to unlock isn't going to stop anyone from getting into your phone. Oh, and make sure your password is not your birthday, anniversary, or any other commonly used number combination. Also, if your device has a biometric feature such as fingerprint recognition, use it.
Use all available controls if you share your device with family members
It is tempting to hand your child your tablet to play a game on a long car ride, but be careful. She could accidentally switch over to your email and send a message or make in-app purchases on your company credit card (if it is set as your preferred payment). Also, she could snap a picture of herself and accidentally send it to your client list. Make sure that all applications are password-protected and not linked to one other, or that parental controls are enabled (if it's available on your device).
Read the fine print on all applications
Yes the print on installation warnings can be teeny-tiny but that doesn’t mean you should click right through them. Many ask for permissions that might get you in trouble. For instance, social media apps often want access to address books. If your online Rolodex includes coworkers and customers, you do not want them getting an invitation to play a game or to see your latest postings on Instagram. If you are unsure about what the application wants control over, then pass on installing it.
Make sure you trust each app’s vendor
It’s tempting to download an app because a friend or colleague won't stop talking about it.. But apps can be dangerous. Check who created the app, if you recognize the name and if the company is trustworthy. Apps hook into all parts of your device so be careful before you allow them on yours. Try to stick to apps from the Google Play store, rather than sideloading APKs.
Partition as much as you can
One way to keep home and work separate is to use two different accounts for your email. Even better, use different apps to access those accounts. That way you will be less likely to send mail from the wrong one. Also, be careful when texting. Use the device’s native SMS for personal and a company-sanctioned app for professional instant communication.
Enable safeguards such as remote locator, lock, and wipe
Find as many ways as you can to protect your smartphone and tablet, including turning on GPS so the device can be found if lost or stolen. And make sure you back it up often so if you have to erase it in the event it’s compromised, you won’t lose your data. Apps like Lookout can help secure and backup your device.