Managing Personal Use on Work Devices: Risks to Your Company

In today’s interconnected world, the boundary between personal and professional lives often gets blurred, especially with the increase of remote work arrangements. In just the first three months of 2024, Entara has encountered multiple security incidents involving an employee of a client using their personal accounts on a work device. The incidents stemming from employees logging in and using their personal accounts on company devices can lead to loss of data, money, time, and more – both for the individual and the business. These incidents have also come from users using their work emails for personal accounts, such as their work email for their bank account. 

Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of personal account use on work devices.

Security Vulnerabilities  

Mixing personal and work-related activities on the same device opens the door to security vulnerabilities. Personal tasks such as browsing social media, downloading non-work-related applications, or clicking on unfamiliar links can expose sensitive company data to various threats like malware, phishing attacks, or data breaches. A single lapse in judgment can compromise the entire organizational network, leading to devastating consequences. Because IT teams cannot monitor or secure personal accounts, these are more susceptible to being attacked. Mixing personal and professional accounts can lead to a compromise from one infecting the other, making it more difficult to determine impact.

Data Privacy Concerns 

Work devices are often equipped with monitoring and tracking systems to ensure compliance and security. Engaging in personal activities on these devices can jeopardize privacy because employers may have the legal right to monitor all activities conducted on company-owned equipment. Personal emails, messages, or files stored on work devices might be subject to scrutiny, leading to potential privacy infringements and uncomfortable situations.

Productivity Drain

While occasional breaks can boost productivity, excessive personal use on work devices can have the opposite effect. Constant distractions from personal emails, social media notifications, or online shopping can be detrimental to employee productivity. Mixing personal and work-related tasks blurs the line between professional and down time, making it challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Legal Implications

From a legal standpoint, the use of work devices for personal purposes can raise various legal concerns, especially regarding intellectual property rights, confidentiality agreements, and compliance regulations. Unauthorized software installations, file sharing, or accessing prohibited content can violate company policies and industry regulations, potentially leading to legal consequences for both the employee and the organization. 

Work Device Best Practices: How to Set and Maintain Boundaries 

Despite the risks associated with personal use on work devices, employees still use their work device for personal activities. For some, this might be the only computer in their household, so they don’t have a choice, but it’s still important for employees to understand the risks they pose to their company. Striking a balance between productivity and personal convenience is possible with the following best practices: 

Establish Clear Policies: Organizations should implement clear and comprehensive policies regarding the acceptable use of work devices for personal tasks. Employees should be educated and reminded regularly about the potential risks and consequences of violating these policies. 

Web/DNS Filtering: Protect your users from malicious websites and links by utilizing a web/DNS filtering tool. If your users work from home, ensure they are covered on and off network. When working out of the office, users should utilize a VPN for secure connections. 

Regular Security Training: Conduct regular security awareness training sessions to educate employees about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices for safeguarding company data on work devices. 

Workstation Security: Protect your corporate workstations from potential infection from inappropriate corporate device use. Ensure all devices are protected by an EDR solution and work with a trusted provider for MDR. 

Respect Work-Life Boundaries: Encourage employees to respect designated work hours and avoid engaging in personal activities during peak productivity periods. Promote a culture that values work-life balance to enhance employee well-being and job satisfaction. 

Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture with Entara 

Entara offers complete, integrated IT and cybersecurity solutions personalized to a company’s needs. We provide comprehensive cybersecurity and technology services to elevate our clients’ security stacks and prevent devastating cyberattacks. Our recommendations are based on thousands of hours of real-world experience helping companies across industries recover from ransomware and other cyber threats.  Connect with us to learn more about how our team of experts can help you become compliant with the FTC Safeguard Rule, teach your employees how to safely work remotely, and reduce your organization’s vulnerability to cyber threats. 

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