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How To Protect Your Company When People Lose Devices

It’s easy to protect all your devices if you plan ahead

There is a good chance someone at your company has lost a phone at some point in the past and there’s a good chance you’ve had a laptop or tablet stolen too.  As costly as it is to replace a device, the company data on the device is more valuable than the device itself. Unfortunately, we don’t think about what we’d do if we lost the device until we’ve lost the device—which is too late of course. But there are easy ways to track and remotely erase devices—protecting you, your business, and your data.

Millions of missing devices are never found

According to a 2017 study, 70 million smartphones are lost in the US alone. Every 53 seconds a laptop is stolen. How many of these are recovered? Not many. Only about 7% of lost smartphones are found. This is a huge problem. Beyond the cost of replacing devices there is the incalculable cost of lost business data. Devices cost money, but your business’ data is something altogether different. Information stored on devices can be used to compromise your network, impersonate employees, or worse.

But if you assume it’s inevitable someone will lose a device, then you can take steps to deal with the inevitable. Thinking it won’t ever happen to you, leaves you open to your data falling into the wrong hands. We know the second option isn’t smart. What are your options? Both Android and iOS have built in options, but they don’t go far enough to protect business data.

Built-in protections are good, but not good enough for business

Both iOS and Android devices have tools to locate, lock, and erase devices. Apple’s Find My iPhone work with iPhones, iPads, Apple Watch, and MacOS devices. It’s simple to set up and you can access it from any computer through iCloud.com or the app on iPhones and iPads. Google’s Find My Device uses your Google ID and offers its own website and app in the Google Play Store as well. Both these solutions are easy-to-use, reliable, and free. Free is great, but free solutions aren’t robust enough for businesses. Both solutions need the device owner to turn the Find My Device/iPhone on and, if it’s a BYOD device, only the device owner can trigger it. Neither of these apps offer centralized control over multiple devices at once. These are consumer grade solutions perfect for individuals or even families. If you aren’t using one of these tools on your personal devices, you should. For your business, however, you need a solution where devices are automatically tracked and can lock devices down or even erase them if it goes missing.

Here’s how centralized device management closes the gap

Because both Apple and Google solution use an individual’s personal Google or Apple ID, you need the employee to trigger locking and erasing their phone. This assumes employees have set up the Find My Device/iPhone feature in the first place. Imagine how frustrating it would be if an employee loses their phone and then tells you they didn’t bother to turn on the Find my Device feature. Even if the Find My Device/iPhone is set up, if the employee can’t (or won’t) use the tool, there isn’t much you can do. The only way to avoid the problem is using a mobile device management/universal endpoint management solution (we talked about the naming convention in a recent post) and requiring employees to use it if they are using their devices for work. If employees want to use their own devices for work—and gain all the benefits that come with it—they have to respect their employer’s need to protect company data.

When BYOD (or company-owned) devices are managed through an MDM/UEM, device protection is enabled by default and can’t be disabled. Software like SKY WORK can track devices in real-time and if the device is lost, remotely lock, disable, or erase the device. Some employees might find 24/7 location tracking troubling, it’s important to reassure employees they won’t be tracked off-hours and if they must be tracked during work hours, communicate why it’s important (that part is the company’s responsibility).

Yes, it’s a double-edged sword. This is why it is critically important to establish BYOD policies, rules, and guidelines before you roll out device management. For example:

If you would like to use your own device for work, you must install SKY WORK so the company can manage company data stored on the device. Your personal data will not be visible to the company. Company data will be securely stored on your device and managed by SKY WORK.

The SKY WORK Device Management tool allows us to locate your device as long as it is powered on. We respect our employee’s privacy and personal time, we will only use location tracking to find lost or stolen devices.

If a device is lost or stolen, employees must inform the help desk as soon as possible. The device will be remotely located and locked or erased. When a BYOD device is locked or erased only the work portion of the device is affected. We encourage employees to also enable the Find my iPhone feature for iOS devices or Find My Device feature for Android devices to protect their personal data on the device.

Locating devices and remote wiping is only one facet of BYOD, but an important one. Helping employees see the balance and trade off is part and parcel of a successful BYOD program.

You can read more about BYOD in our two-part post for business owners and employees (Getting Started with BYOD part 1, Implementing BYOD part 2, Employee’s Guide to BYOD).

Learn more about SKY WORK

SKY WORK is a fully-featured suite of managed collaboration and productivity tools designed for small to mid-sized businesses. SKY WORK is designed to help companies implement BYOD without the cost or IT requirements of competing MDM/UEM solutions. We believe securing your business and your data shouldn’t require specialized IT skills. SKY WORK is pre-configured for small businesses and we work with you to tailor data and security policies that meet your unique needs.

If you’d like to learn more about SKY WORK, get in touch and we’ll set up a time to talk.

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