As technology develops, new trends for communicating and sharing develop even further: technologists have increasingly discovered over the last 20 years that people, ‘users’, will find remarkable applications for any technology they are in contact with. The more a person uses a piece of technology, they greater the likelihood that they will find a use for it that the inventors had no thoughts on.
In a business context, when the telephone emerged as a business tool, the thought of putting one on everyone’s desk was initially thought a bad idea. When email emerged, the same mindset applied – it is a bad idea, we should ban it from the building. The same management thought process reapplied constantly: Internet access, Instant Messaging, Social Media and so on.
They were all deemed initially to be bad for staff productivity – the knee jerk reaction was to ban their use, or ration it out in very controlled doses via company controlled portals, until many of them are now so second nature and considered mission and business critical. Truth was, and is, they are productivity enhancers not killers!
So, what is a productivity killer you should be working on controlling?
Employers are waking up to the issues surrounding use of smart phones, however for many the focus is on data loss or unauthorized access to their networks. Another issue which should added to the list is time-wasting and loss of productivity. Smart phones cannot be banned – but many of the social apps they are running should indeed be described as productivity killers, and managing this is difficult, especially if the app is on the employee’s own phone, which is an increasingly likely scenario with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
A recent survey of over 6,000 businesses who used mobile security management solutions gathered information on the ten most blocked social Mobile apps – some of this list are not a surprise, but some are:
2. Angry Birds
4. Microsoft OneDrive
5. Google Drive
File sharing applications, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, account for most of the top ten slots – this is no real surprise given the sensitivity involved. It becomes a simple matter for a staff member to upload files to the Cloud, and from there to anywhere else. There is also the issue with theft of the smart phone and automatic access being provided to whoever has possession of that device.
But is blocking such apps really productive? Why not provide access to a secured company provided application to give staff the ability to utilize the convenience of such apps, but in a managed and much more secure environment. There is also the very simple issue of how users are able to find ways around blocking attempts by their employers too. Enablement is a much more effective way of controlling and managing apps than blocking them, plus you know what the security risks going forward, rather than having to second guess a whole string of people.
But what about apps such as Angry Birds?
Clearly, there is no business use case for having such an app on a work cell phone, even if it is just for occasional use. In such instances, you would be right to simply block them from company-owned devices, and also to have the URLs filtered and blocked from being accessed via your network.