Owners of PR firms and other businesses need to have strict policies for employees who download proprietary information to their smart phones and tablets, says David Rosenbaum, president of Real-Time Computer Services, New York.

David RosenbaumEmployees who bring their own devices to work are becoming the norm, says Rosenbaum, whose firm works with clients to create legal agreements that can be used by management.

"Many employees don’t want to use separate devices for business and personal purposes," he notes.

A problem arises when a PR firm’s employee, who has had remote access to the firm's e-mail, calendar and contacts and other confidential information, suddenly leaves the firm for one reason or another.

Such information, improperly used, could be damaging to a client and compromise the firm’s competitive position, said Rosenbaum. PR firms are especially at risk because they deal with sensitive client information, he adds.

Wording of Agreement

Wording suggested by Real-Time is as follows:

"By utilizing the above listed device to access company information, including email, calendar dates and/or contact information, I acknowledge that this information is confidential and proprietary to the company and that loss or disclosure of this information may have a material adverse impact on the company. I agree that I will take all measures to assure that others are unable to access information on the device, which may include assuring that the device is locked when not in use.

"I further acknowledge and agree that if the device is lost or stolen, or upon termination of the company’s granting me use of the equipment to access company information, the company will without notice and without requiring further authorization wipe the device to delete all contents of the device, including both company and any personal information on the device, and I will cooperate in this process as requested by the company."

Replicate Data on Company Server

PR firms should tell employees that business data compiled by them should automatically be uploaded to the company’s server, says Rosenbaum, whose 31-year-old firm offers consulting services related to technology. PR firm clients have included Manning, Selvage & Lee, Marina Maher Communications and the LVM Group.

Employers also have to check that employee devices are adequately backed up and protected from malware and spyware.

Younger employees, particularly, are into "gadgetry" and like to have their own devices, says Rosenbaum. Some of them even consider employer computer setups as "stodgy."

Letting employees use their own devices can cut computer bills of the employer although there are risks involved, he notes.

One alternative is to forbid employees from using personal devices for company information.