Mobile Internet Use Policies and the Mobile Work Environment
What Is a Mobile Internet Use Policy?
A Mobile Internet Use Policy (MIUP), also commonly referred to as an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), is a set of guidelines for using a company’s internet connection, network and equipment. These policies are set in place to prevent inappropriate network and technology usage by employees that can put the company at legal and financial risk and expose its data to malicious agents.
A good policy considers what data and records are most important to the business’ survival. A good policy also considers the ways that data can be potentially compromised, both internally and externally.
The primary components of a typical internet use policy include:
- A clear definition of what constitutes appropriate network usage
- How employees can use company-issued devices like phones, laptops, and tablets
- Restrictions for what company data employees can access on devices they bring themselves — especially as the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement becomes more widespread.
Policies also typically define how workers can use corporate email accounts to prevent issues such as the subscription to unsafe or irreputable services. An equally important issue is the sending of offensive, inappropriate or abusive content, messages, advertisements, or solicitations.
Benefits of a Mobile Internet Use Policy
In our newly normalized work-from-home culture, many companies have placed a greater emphasis on making sure employees are using company devices and networks appropriately. More employees are accessing corporate data outside the office and firewalls of their employers’ IT departments. Mobile internet use policies can protect businesses and prevent financial losses that can result from productivity decreases.
One of a business’ primary focuses in implementing an internet usage policy should be curbing cybersecurity threats. It only takes one breached device to compromise a business’ entire network or data. Restricting network usage to sites and software that are strictly for business use can lessen the likelihood that an employee encounters malware, hackers, and malicious software that can open the company up to a data breach. Email account usage is also important to consider. It is estimated that 94% of malware is delivered via email. Thousands of dollars are lost every minute to phishing attacks.
Mobile internet use policies can also use disclaimers to protect the company from legal repercussions taken by employees that experience unwanted or unexpected outcomes while using the company network and services.
Enforcing Your Policy
Your MIUP should clearly define acceptable usage of company-owned networks and devices and should be implemented and enforced in an ethical manner. There are a number of methods employers can apply to effectively ensure workers are using workplace technology appropriately.
Make Your Policy Understandable
Unsurprisingly, workers can have difficulty following policies they don’t understand. As with all shared content, you should write your usage policy with your audience in mind. Word choice matters. Use accurate terminology tailored to your industry and the network and technology your business uses. Unambiguously outline your expectations for the usage of these workplace technologies. Employers can also test their workers’ understanding of the policy guidelines after they have read them to make sure they’re not signing them blindly.
Plan for Corrective Action
To ensure compliance with your policy, it’s important to have consequences for misuse of company networks and to communicate those consequences with your employees. Clear communication on this front prevents workers from being caught off guard by your methods of policy enforcement and provides a deterrent for misuse.
Some crucial features of an effective plan for corrective action include delegating responsibility for the policy enforcement and confirming that this chosen delegate understands when and how to apply disciplinary action. Protocol in the event of violations should be planned comprehensively and in advance. The enforcement plan should account for the severity and intent of the violation so that consequences are meted out fairly.
While many employers and businesses find work monitoring excessive and intrusive, the use of employee-monitoring software has boomed amid the pandemic as companies seek to enforce their internet use policies with workers outside their direct supervision. It is important that businesses enforce their internet use policies in a way that respects their employees’ rights.
Remote work often switches between personal and work activities and employers should rightfully be concerned with curbing distracting and dangerous personal internet usage on work devices. However, they should not monitor the personal activities and devices of workers. Doing so can potentially cause legal troubles for the business.
Furthermore, monitoring should not be implemented for motives outside of business improvement and efficiency. Have a clear idea of what workplace concerns you mean to address when planning the terms of your policy. Entrepreneur.com offers this bit of wisdom on the matter: “If you’re only using the software for the sake of using it, or for the sake of spying on your employees, you’re wasting your time.”
Unfortunately, online environments, with their perceived freedom from many of the typical social rules of in-person social environments, empower unscrupulous people to engage in abusive behaviors. Computerworld warns that cyberstalking is a real possibility in online environments and meeting tools and advises that employers “communicate clear guidelines regarding appropriate behavior in remote collaboration platforms and ensure that employees can safely report behavior that seems abusive.”
Always make sure your employees are fully aware of your employee-monitoring methods as monitoring workers without their knowledge and consent is not only unethical, but can put the business in danger of severe legal consequences.
The Rise of the Mobile Work Environment During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Remote work culture has witnessed an explosive rise during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdowns were set in place to reduce exposure to the virus. In fact, evidence suggests that most companies want to make some form of remote work the norm even after the pandemic has died down for a myriad of proven benefits like increased job satisfaction, improved employee retention, and improved mental health among workers.
Many companies cite a fear of a dip in employee productivity as a result of the work-from-home environment, but evidence shows that this concern is perhaps overblown. Many companies have observed greater levels of productivity in their remote workers over their office workers. This can stem from an increase in employee satisfaction, time saved in commuting, a decrease in interruptions and distractions, and having a more comfortable work environment.
MIUPs are a vital way to protect your business from data leakage, legal headaches, and employee productivity loss. The rise in remote work environments especially highlights the importance of thorough and well-communicated regulations for company networks, as the lines between personal and work life become more blurred. When policies are enforced ethically and fairly, a business can deter inappropriate and dangerous behavior in its employees in a manner that protects and satisfies all parties involved.
With your Mobile Internet Use Policy in hand, how do you implement the technical side of an MIUP onto mobile networks? CyberReef has made this daunting task easy with MobileWall mobile firewall. MobileWall creates virtual private networks for your business, extending your corporate firewall to the mobile environment. MobileWall addresses the data security component of an MIUP, while also handling the data usage component. Learn more about our MobileWall mobile firewall.