Why Online Business and Personal Accounts Must Be Kept Separate

Why Online Business and Personal Accounts Must Be Kept Separate

Changing consumer habits have always translated to changes in the workplace. As the modern workforce becomes more accustomed to using personal devices for work and the greatly increased mobility that affords, businesses face a raft of new challenges when it comes to keeping their systems and data secure.

The variety and sophistication of online security threats continue to put businesses under more pressure to improve their cybersecurity. And when you have employees using their own devices and accounts for work-related matters, that’s not easy to do.

Maintaining Control Over Corporate Security

Perhaps the most obvious reason for keeping business and personal accounts separate is that it allows you to maintain control over the security and integrity of the systems and data your business relies on to operate. That means providing the tools your employees need to do their jobs without them having to resort to personal email and social media accounts.

Many businesses now provide a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program that allows employees to use their own devices -- such as laptops, tablets and smartphones -- for work. The BYOD model offers many advantages, such as increased productivity and reduced costs. At the same time, it also necessitates a system that keeps business and personal accounts separate.

At first glance, an employee sending a company document to a colleague via personal email may seem innocuous, but if that email isn't encrypted, you could be in a world of hurt. Mobile device management (MDM) software is crucial for any BYOD policy, since it allows you to maintain control over data stored in the cloud, even if your employees are accessing and using it from their own devices.

For example, an MDM solution might allow you to create a separate partition on smartphones and tablets for storing corporate data, keeping it separate from the user’s personal accounts and files. There are plenty of other ways to secure BYOD devices, but regardless of what you choose, your policies must state the rules in terms everyone can understand.

Staying Compliant with Enterprise-Grade Security Controls

Although the line is often blurred between consumer and business technology, the survival of your business could depend on understanding what employees are legally prohibited from doing with personal devices.

For example, many public email providers or instant messaging services are not compliant with data security standards like HIPAA, HITECH or PCI-DSS. That means they should never be used for exchanging sensitive corporate information, such as payment details or any other private information belonging to your clients or partners.

In fact, you would be shocked by how many online platforms can automatically disqualify you from achieving compliance. That is why there is a very different set of products and services tailored for business use. These generally come with the more sophisticated set of security controls, such as AI-based spam filters, round-the-clock monitoring, and intrusion detection and prevention systems.

Without an IT provider helping you create systems with strict data use policies, adequate information security and compliance are nearly impossible. Most people take a very lax approach toward online security. For example, most Americans reuse passwords, and many people don’t even bother locking their smartphones. It shouldn’t be difficult to see why using such systems for work is asking for trouble.

The Bottom Line

While every business should provide ongoing security awareness training to the benefit of both your business and its employees, it’s important to remember that keeping personal and business accounts totally separate is the only practical and effective way to protect your business and meet compliance obligations.

Given that you have probably spent countless hours building your company, you can not afford to leave yourself open to employee negligence and a lack of suitable security systems. That is why Athens Micro helps businesses develop the security foundations they need to protect themselves from threats both inside and outside. Contact us today if you are ready to make that change.

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