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Are Your Employees Are Using Risky Apps at Work? (Survey Says Yes)

Ever wondered if your apps are spying on you? Now you can find out
The last few years have been more than a little complicated for your business (and your employees). If you’re like most businesses in the Hendersonville and Asheville area, you have more people working remotely than you did in 2019, whether that means full-time remote, local but at-home, or a hybrid schedule with some days in the office and some days at home. Another element that’s changed is how your employees expect to access your company’s resources. They want to use whatever device is most convenient — and that isn’t always the laptop you issued them. Even on that company laptop, you have employees that want to use apps that aren’t an official part of your IT plan. And some of the apps they want to use could be creating security risks for your business.

Employees Want More Control; Many Don’t Follow Guidelines

Here’s a general life principle that shows up in your business: people don’t like being controlled or told what to do. That’s part of why a recent industry survey found that 92% of employees want more control over the applications they use at work. Even worse, more than half of them admitted using apps or tools that their IT division had formally banned. Your IT department or IT partner usually has a good reason for an all-out ban on an app. Many free apps create some security concerns, and you don’t want your IT group to be in a position where they must manually track down and vet every single app anyone wants to use. But locking everything down like a supermax prison doesn’t work either. If you put too many restrictions on your teammates (without putting mechanisms in place to enforce those restrictions), people will start to revolt.

Balancing Convenience, Access, and Security

Business leaders like you (and IT partners like us) have to do a bit of a balancing act. You don’t want to unnecessarily constrain your teams: doing so makes people feel untrusted and could keep them from increasing productivity and enjoying their work. But you also shouldn’t offer wide-open access for any and all software and apps (not to mention mobile devices, which can create their own security risks!).

Communication Is Key

Your business will need to control app usage in some capacity (more on that in the next section), but you don’t want to anger your staff in the process. Some of the apps they want to use legitimately could transform your workflows (as Slack early adopters can attest) and don’t create security threats. Communication is key to finding balance here. Your teammates need to know they shouldn’t circumvent software controls — but they should also know that you’re always willing to consider pitches for how new software or a new app could improve their work. When a good idea comes along, explore it — and get your IT services company involved to do some vetting. Giving your teammates reasonable access to the apps they want to use — while maintaining security and open lines of communication — is the best overall approach.

The Best Solutions: Endpoint Management and Mobile Device Management (MDM)

We’ve mentioned the idea of locking down software or controlling what employees can install on their devices, but you might be wondering how any of this is possible. Two solutions make this happen: endpoint management controls what happens on company-issued machines. It can help you keep software up to date and secure, and it prevents users from installing whatever they want (in accordance to policies you determine). Then what about your employees’ mobile devices (their smartphones and tablets and that sketchy laptop at home they want to use to access your network)? Mobile device management, or MDM, provides similar controls and access for mobile devices. Most businesses shouldn’t implement these solutions alone—but they absolutely should implement them. Work with a managed IT services partner like Blue Ridge Tech to implement these solutions right away!