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Computer Charging Security: What Corporate Employers Need to Know

Computer charging security at the workplace is a bigger issue than one might think. Yes, we’ve all fallen victim to a low cell phone battery while at work. But as tempting as it may be to simply connect your phone to a work computer to charge it up, employees should think twice before they do—and corporate employers would be well suited to safeguard against such practices.

Low Batteries Can Cause High Risk Behaviors

Smartphones are an integral part of corporate life these days, and keeping them juiced up is as important as having a fully charged laptop. More than 82% of businesses are Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)-friendly, meaning employees can use their personal smartphones and tablets to carry out business activities. While BYOD may help improve employee happiness and productivity, this policy is not without its risks.

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Computer charging security includes not charging your phone through the USB port. – image source

That’s because people are generally careless when it comes to cybersecurity on their mobile devices, on which employees can easily open dangerous emails and download suspect games. According to security consulting group RedTeam, more than half of security breaches are now caused by employees inside the impacted organization,” which they attribute to a combination of employee negligence and BYOD policies. Just this year, Google removed around 60 apps that contained malware from the Play Store.

Once it’s infected by malware, Archer Security Group argues that when an employee plug phone in to work computer or use it for work, it could be like handing over keys to thieves.” Corrupted smartphones can give up a treasure trove of personal information, which can help hackers “socially engineer” passwords and secure information. According to F-Secure, 52% of external attackers used social engineering to penetrate target corporations, resulting in billions of dollars in losses.

Allowing employees to bring and use their own devices at work puts sensitive data at risk every time they plug a personal device into a work computer.

While charging a phone through a computer may seem innocuous, the danger lies in the fact that USB ports are designed to share data, not just power. Most people don’t consider this fact, though. CNN reported that at the 2017 RSA security conference, an eye-popping 80% of “security experts” charged their phones without making sure it was safe.

Allowing employees to bring and use their own devices at work puts sensitive data at risk every time they plug a personal device into a work computer. That risk is multiplied when you consider that the infected phone is not just connected to one computer at work, but potentially every computer on the network. Even the White House, which had a BYOD policy for the last year, realized the risk posed by unsecured devices on the White House WiFi, prompting Chief of Staff John Kelly to kill the policy this January.

Tips to Ensure Computer Charging Security

As more and more companies turn to a BYOD policy, IT and Security heads should be enacting smart policies to encourage safe computer charging security. Here are a few simple tips for every company to consider.

  1. Promote Mobile Cybersecurity

    If employees are going to use their personal devices for work, Value Walk recommends using passphrases or biometrics if possible, requiring antivirus and antimalware software, and being able to remotely wipe lost or stolen devices. Companies can also use VPNs to ensure data is encrypted.

  1. Discourage Charging Phones through Computers

    Educate employees about the danger of charging phones through their computers. Since companies can’t control the apps they download on their personal devices, computer charging security should be taught often.

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    Wall-mounted charging stations provide secure charging in common work areas. – image source
  1. Provide Ample Charging Stations in Strategic Areas

    One way to effectively discourage computer charging is for companies to install charging stations in the workplace. For ease of use, consider installing wall-mounted or table top charging stations in high traffic areas like meeting rooms and kitchens.

  1. Encourage Personal Power Packs for On-the-Go Charging

    Employees who travel a lot may be tempted to charge their phones on-the-go through their laptops. A portable power pack that can charge both a laptop and a smartphone can create smooth trips and discourage risky phone charging behavior.

The best way to promote computer charging security company-wide is ultimately to ban the practice of connecting personal devices to work computers. Employees can still keep their phones charged up when companies provide ample secure charging locations throughout the office. Check out ChargeTech’s full line of secure charging stations, charging tables, and charging lockers to find the right solution for your company.