“Police officers cannot use their personal mobile devices for work because of the risk of a data breach.” This is a common belief that has stopped many forces from implementing or even considering a BYOD program.

Personal smartphones are now so ubiquitous that officers are almost certain to use them on the job. People are prone to follow the path of least resistance to get the job done. With police officers facing the pressures of having to do more with less, their real-life practices are going to differ from the security ideals that their IT departments attempt to enforce.

It is essential to be pro-active with BYOD. Resisting or maintaining a passive approach exposes your organization's data to unnecessary risk each time an individual takes a shortcut and uses their personal mobile device on the job. A strategic implementation of BYOD not only increases security, but boosts productivity as well.

Managers charged with implementing a BYOD program for police should consider the following guidelines:

  1. Avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy. Allow room for flexibility since different departments and use cases have different needs. Be prepared for changes in operational requirements or to incorporate new advances in technology.

  2. Utilize a mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform to keep an eye on your fleet of active devices.

  3. Prioritize data protection above device protection. Most devices are easily replaceable at a modest cost; your organizational data is not.

  4. Create a clear and concise policy that covers both proactive and reactive measures. Officers not only need to know how to protect their data, but also have a clear understanding of the procedure to follow in case of a loss or breach.

  5. Be prepared to support 3-4 devices per user.1 BYOD is not just about enabling the use of a personal smartphone. The ‘D’ in BYOD can be a smartphone, laptop, tablet or another internet-connected device.

  6. Choose on-device or cloud-based tools that ensure strict separation between personal and work related data. Both the user interface and the underlying technologies should affirm data separation.

  7. Evaluate virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI) platforms and apps. These solutions offer some of the highest levels of protection against a data breach since no organizational data is stored on the mobile device.

The use of mobile devices in the workplace will continue to increase in both the private and public sectors. Embracing this trend with an effective program empowers officers by providing a secure and efficient way of working in the field. If you haven’t implemented a BYOD program, you may be increasing the risk of a data breach instead of reducing it. So what are you waiting for?

Stay tuned for a series of blog posts that will go deeper into each of these 7 guidelines.

1 http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3176217

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