Since spring 2020, the world has been working remotely. That means employees access corporate resources from public and home networks. If you work remotely, the chances are that you may also use your own device for that.
The IT team of your employer may be working to implement solid policies to guide remote work as far as cybersecurity and device use.
The official term for policies that allow you to use your own device for work is bring-your-own-device policies or BYOD.
From your perspective as an employee, you may appreciate the ability to use your own devices for work, whether it’s your phone, tablet, or your laptop. It can help you be productive because you’re already familiar with finding your way around your personal device. You can save time rather than dedicating it to switching back and forth.
Using your device may make you more likely to embrace new technology your employer rolls out as well.
While there are perks for you as an employee and for your employer of using the same devices for work and personal tasks, you want to keep things separate to an extent too. You may also have privacy concerns.
The following are things to know about a shared device and how to keep some separation between work and personal when your employer has a BYOD policy.
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What Kind of Privacy Do You Have?
BYOD policies do blur the lines of privacy in a way that we haven’t seen in the workplace before now. When you have a BYOD policy that you follow, you can integrate your work onto devices familiar to you, but you may be giving your employer access to your personal data.
Your company may let you know that any information on the technology used for work has to adhere to their protocols for example and can be accessed by the company.
There are also quite a few BYOD policies that have an assumption of risk for a data breach. That means it’s up to you as the employee to monitor your device security.
Some employers use mobile devices management technology, limiting access to certain apps and websites and even non-work-related activities. MDM can allow employers, if they want, to have unrestricted access to personal devices, and it could allow for the remote wipe of your personal device.
Along with privacy concerns, another big potential pitfall of a BYOD policy is that it creates less separation between your work and the rest of your life. There are already blurred lines, and if you’re using the same devices across the board, this is likely to get worse.
As an employee, what can you do about the problematic scenarios above?
First, you need to know all terms and provisions very clearly when your employer sets them. The BYOD policy should be optional, and if you aren’t comfortable with it, optout. There are legal and security issues if your employer tries to force you into using your own devices for work.
If you have concerns, speak up because these are valid, and many employers are moving too quickly on BYOD without thinking about regulatory and privacy issues.
Beyond these policy-related steps you can take, if you decide that you’re going to use your personal devices for work, you should do your best to keep a sense of separation.
Separation On Your Laptop
If you’re using your laptop for work and personal use, it’s possible to create partitions between these areas of your life.
You can separate your primary hard drive into two actual partitions, in fact. When you do this, you can put encryption on your work hard drive, which is essential no matter what but especially if you’re held responsible for cyberattacks that might occur.
When you have a personal partition set up on your laptop, you don’t have to deal with software your employer installs. You can also have more of a sense of balance in your life overall because you have two separate areas of your device.
Even if you’re not going to split your hard drive, you can set up separate profiles for work and personal things in your web browser and make sure you’re never using one for the other and vice versa.
Then, each profile can have its own extensions and bookmarks. This is great not only to keep things separate for privacy, but it also helps you be organized, and who doesn’t want that?
If you use your phone for work, you might want to avoid synchronizing your personal web browsing with it. It’s a good idea to keep the two completely separate. You might also want to use different email apps for work and personal, so they’re not tied in with one another.
For example, you could use your iPhone’s Mail feature for one set of emails and then Gmail for your personal emails.
Some smartphones will let you create separate work and personal profiles for your apps.
Use an App
There are apps available that will help you separate work and personal things on your devices. Divide is an example. Divide is an Android app that Google acquired that helps with device management and security, as well as task separation.
Ultimately, the most important thing to be aware of as an employee with BYOD is what your employer’s particular policies are. Don’t necessarily jump at the chance to take advantage. Even though it might sound convenient, at the end of the day, you’re potentially setting yourself up for some serious privacy issues.
If you leave your job or have your phone stolen, you might even have your data completely wiped.
Once you’re familiar with the policies, you can start to decide if you want to optout of your employer’s BYOD policy or try and split your work and personal tasks on your devices so they stay separate.
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