BYOD for Biotech? A Good Idea or Not?

Posted by Steven Vigeant on 10/17/13 9:30 AM

BYOD Smartphone SecurityThe advanced features offered by smartphones and tablets have changed the way that people do business. With these devices, there is no need to be in the office or in front of your computer to keep up with emails, access important files, and share information. In a data-driven industry like biotech, remote access can facilitate a lot of important business.

However, Internet-enabled devices present new risks and challenges that many new businesses overlook. Just like your desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets are vulnerable to security threats. In the rush to produce results, you may be encouraging your employees to use them. That makes sense, but only if you have a plan in place to guide usage practices. Otherwise you may be committing a huge IT mistake - risking your most sensitive information and without even knowing it.

In order to safely use mobile devices as a part of your biotech business, you need to have a mobile device management solution in place. This comprehensive strategy will address the following concerns.

Theft or Loss

The disadvantage of highly-portable devices is that they are easy to lose and appealing to thieves. If your employees have sensitive company data or personal login information stored on their device, it becomes completely insecure when that device is lost. You have no idea who now has access to the information on which your biotech business relies.

Device Replacement

There is a lucrative market for reselling smartphones and tablets. As your employees turn in their old devices for upgrades, they may be relinquishing data from your company. If you do not have a policy in place for recycling or disposing of devices systematically, there is no way to know where these devices end up and who may be using them.

Employee Usage

If your employees use their personal devices for business purposes, they run the risk of infecting your network with a virus, compromising data, or changing important settings. It is important to govern how employees use their devices in order to protect your entire IT infrastructure.

Terminated Employees

Employees who have left the company may still be using a company phone or have company information stored on their personal phone. This asset walks out the door the day they leave the company. In addition to ending your relationship with an employee, it is important to sever their link to your biotech company's data.

IT Backups

When the use of devices is unstructured, it can place a serious burden on your IT infrastructure. You have suddenly added a whole new set of computing demands to the system you have in place without making any provisions. Managing the use of mobile devices allows you to avoid unnecessary strains and backlogs.

One simple step that any biotech company can take to secure their devices is to implement a remote wiping system. All the data can be erased from a device even if it is not in your possession. Some devices have this feature built in, and there are also free apps like Mobile Defense that perform the same function. This is an important first step, but it is only part of an effective mobile device management strategy. Consult our white paper “After the Seed: Planning IT Investment for a Biotech Startup” to learn more about avoiding IT disasters.


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Topics: Data Security, BYOD