Trends predict that by 2017, half of all employers are expected to require their employees to supply their own devices for work. While a well-implemented and maintained bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workplace has its benefits (such as driving innovation, reducing, or completely eliminating, the expense of constantly replacing outdated devices, and potential wage and hours claims for ‘overtime’ hours worked), there are definite security and legal risks that every Orange County business should explore.
As we head into a BYOD era, security should be a primary concern for employers. Many companies invest heavily in the development of their trade secrets and other intellectual property and rely on their IP portfolio to give them a competitive advantage over other businesses. In general, California law affords protection to those trade secrets (learn more here), but certain steps must be taken in order to obtain a legal shield. For example, your company must demonstrate that the trade secret is in fact “secret.” An Orange County intellectual property lawyer can help walk you through this process.
In addition to requiring confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements from all employees, companies should consider adopting and enforcing policies that address the potential for proprietary information to end up on an employee’s personal device and that the employee may leave the company with that device. Such a policy could include notifying an employee that if the employee elects to use their own device, their internal email and voicemail may be searched and monitored.
Furthermore, employers should consider requiring employees to password protect all devices and prohibit employees from using public WiFi networks to conduct business on their devices (due to the ease of intercepting traffic on those networks). Require employees, upon termination of their employment, to return (not delete) all company documents and information and temporarily relinquish to the company any devices that may have been connected to the company’s systems. With the devices in hand, permanently remove the company’s information and disconnect access to the company’s systems and email servers from the device.
For more information on how to protect your business’s trade secrets or intellectual property portfolio and other confidential information in the digital age, contact the Orange County trade secret lawyers at Hardin & Associates today.