We live in a society that’s completely saturated with technology. Tech savvy employees used to be identified as engineers and computer nerds who either worked for tech companies or were pigeon-holed into IT jobs in other industries. With tech-minded geeks from Gen X rising to power and Millennials entering the workforce, it’s time for businesses to either step up their infrastructure or crumble under the pressure.

Bring Your Own Device – The most important issue a business needs to address is employees bringing their own communication devices to work (BYOD). If you’re a government contractor and your employees are required to have a security clearance to work for you, it’s easy to ban cell phones, tablets, and laptops from the workplace. Most businesses aren’t so lucky. While working in the banking industry, one of my duties as a manager was to perform security audits on employees to ensure they keep their tech in their desks to protect private customer information.  This was ineffective as I would constantly catch employees outside of my department using these devices.

No matter how close you think your employees are, there is always a level of watching out for your own. If I reported an employee outside of my reporting structure for violating these protocols, I’d find myself in a meeting with that employee’s management about overstepping my boundaries. Even in the military, you’ll see this type of camaraderie. Leaders don’t like being told how to lead by other leaders. It’s seen as an insult. If you think your business is immune to a problem that even afflicts soldiers at war, you have your head in the sand.

Virtual Private Network – A more productive solution to this issue is to ensure all your employees have the proper security set up on their devices prior to allowing them in the building. The first thing you need to do is set up a VPN for your company. A VPN allows you and your employees to access private company information securely over a network. Not only does this mean employees can use their cell phones, tablets, and other communication devices on your network with the same level of security as they would on the computer you issue them, it also affords you some level of monitoring employee internet usage on personal devices.

I realize this sounds a bit like Big Brother. I fight against such monitoring of personal files in public places, etc. In a business setting, however, there is merit to this type of monitoring. We live in an age where one of your employees can destroy the reputation of your company within minutes. All it takes is one tweet or one picture uploaded to a site like Reddit or Tumblr to get your company in hot water. We see this happen on an almost daily basis in the media. Protecting your trade secrets is an important part of business. A small business may not be able to afford the security measures a large government contractor can, but there are a variety of free or cheap VPN options for these businesses.

Internet Telephones and Cloud Computing – Once you have a secure VPN connection set up in your business, the next steps are to set up a Hosted phone service and work on getting as much of your data into the cloud as possible. Setting these up will save you a lot of money in utility bills and help you go greener. I realize some of these technologies are scary since it puts your data in another party’s hands. It’s important to know that the VPN will secure these data connections, and the cloud itself is as secure as your own hard drive.

The benefits of a VoIP phone service are numerous, but as a business owner, your best bet is with a hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system. This is basically cloud computing for telephones. With this system set up, you’ll be giving your employees another way of communicating through official business channels, known as unified communications and collaboration. From a Risk Management standpoint, this will allow you to catch leaks in your company quicker than companies were able to through traditional means. You can’t always know if an employee is on a traditional telephone, but there is a myriad of ways to monitor these VoIP and PBX systems.

Securing The Future Of Business – We all know it’s important to keep our money and physical valuables safe. We understand the point of a vault or a safety deposit box. In order to keep your business secure in today’s technological world, it’s important to keep your digital information secure as well. Treat your digital information like the computer equipment you’re accessing it on. Keep it locked up for the sake of your company’s future.

All that being said, no amount of security will protect you if you don’t run an ethical company in the first place. Learn more about Ethical Risk Management here.