Author – Kristi Perdue Hinkle

It is no secret that we are living in a digitally evolving world. The use of personal mobile devices continues to increase as constant advancements bring more and more convenience to our busy lives. With today’s smartphones you can do almost anything you want with just the tap of your finger. It leaves me wondering – what’s next? Of all the many ways mobility has made life easier, it has made the most significant impact to me, personally, in the way I do business. With internet access and the ability to collaborate and communicate in my pocket, I can now get work done from anywhere, anytime. I – we – have been enabled to – well – be more mobile. In fact, over 61% of workers report working outside the office at least part of the time. Based on my experience that statistic is only increasing. BYOD has indeed become the rule rather than the exception in today’s modern workplace. And although many organizations may still be struggling with the appropriate blend for their business needs, employees have embraced the use of the mobile devices to get business done.

However, with increased productivity and efficiency, BYOD also brings new risk. Consumer habits and expectations impact how a business should approach mobile device use and information security policies. Employee behavior represents one of the greatest security risks for a business. In our new “rapid response- immediate results” culture – convenience and productivity driven users are apt to do various activities that put the company at risk in order to get their jobs done – without even thinking about the security, compliance or privacy consequences. Use of non-sanctioned apps such as file sharing to collaborate (i.e. Dropbox), accessing public Wi-Fi networks to ensure that they are connected at all times, sharing business information via SMS text messaging or via social channels and even misplacing an unsecured device hit the list of top concerns. Due to these concerns, about half of all companies that allow BYOD have experienced a breach of confidential data. The list of concerns goes on however – and so do the risks. Texting has quickly become the preferred form of communication inside and outside of the office and is probably the most used feature of the mobile workforce. Why? Well, it’s quick, easy and convenient. Same reason we love our mobile devices!

Why is This a Problem?

Texting is great for consumers, a great way to communicate with friends and family. However, when communicating with colleagues for business purposes, you must assume that the potential for strategic information, intellectual property, personal identifiable information, personal health information and/or client information can and will be exchanged. This brings a whole set of requirements for security, privacy, and compliance into play. Text sounds like a great option to improve productivity and efficiency, to get business done quickly, however – is a native texting app really going to keep that information safe? Also, what if the device is lost or stolen? What happens to all that sensitive data sitting in your texts? Not such a big deal for the consumer, personal conversations but for an enterprise, this can result in loss of revenue, reputation, and fines. So how do you keep BYOD communications safe? Tell employees to stop texting? To stop their risky behavior? You could give it a try – I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to happen. Human behavior and habits are hard to break. And, the thing is, most employees are unaware they are even engaging in risky behaviors. When feeling efficient and productive, security is typically an afterthought – if a thought at all. Texting gets things done – period. The latest research by Mobile Marketing Watch shows that text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate, and a 45% response rate, while email only has a 6% response rate. Let’s face it – the age of email is dead. Our need for instant results and response has made texting the new business tool in which to get business done.

What’s the Solution?

The good news is that there is a way to have the best of both worlds. Texting in the enterprise can be done in a safe and secure manner without disrupting user experience or productivity. Employer and employee are both happy, it’s a win-win! Secure enterprise-strength texting apps, are the answer. Enterprise messaging apps work just like your native texting and the consumer texting apps you most likely have heard of and provide the same ease of use, however they provide the enterprise level security and structure necessary for business use. Beyond standard expectations of encryption, features like image obfuscation and screenshot protection, ensure transmitted images are never compromised. Message ephemerality and complete sender controls ensure that messages are never stored on devices or servers and allow the user to always be in control of the conversation. Recipients cannot share, save, forward or print messages and texts are set to expire after a predetermined time of no activity. While these advanced security features are great and remove concerns around unintended data propagation, device loss/theft, and even surveillance, compliance requirements must also be met. No need to worry – some enterprise texting apps have specialized in delivering a secure messaging application that can also help you meet your compliance requirements. With the ability to retain a single copy of conversations in a secure client-specified repository of record, compliance mandates for records retention can be met.

The Bottom Line:

The age of email is over! Text is being used to collaborate and conduct critical business on a daily basis. When using mobile devices for business needs, ensuring privacy, security and compliance are crucial. Acknowledging that BYOD, consumer behaviors, and expectations are all here to stay and will only escalate in use and gravity, you need to address the risks of employee behavior and habits when developing your BYOD strategy for the enterprise and secure text messaging can help solve many challenges when it comes to keeping your business and client information safe. To learn more about how enterprise messaging apps such as Vaporstream Secure Messaging can reduce the security and compliance risks presented by native SMS text, contact us today!