A company instant messaging policy is vital for all business. Even if business isn’t online. Just one risk companies face is the potential for privacy breaches that affect clients or employees.
Companies addressing the use of instant messaging apps have policies which vary from a complete ban to management of use. However, what approach is really going to work best, and what other issues should policies cover?
Protecting Your Business Data
Protecting and retaining company data is one of the most important reasons for creating a robust messaging app policy. This is a two-part problem.
Instant messaging apps cannot provide a company with a record of communications. This means that any confidential information that has been sent is unable to be traced. It also means that any important communications that have occurred are the property of the employee, so if they leave so do the records.
Most countries require businesses to retain all business communications for a period. This is such an important aspect of business communication that the US Department of Justice has put out a recommendation that falls just shy of suggesting a complete ban of messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and others in the workplace.
Preventing Communication Security Risks
A clear policy around the use of instant messaging platforms is essential if you want to be aware of what security liabilities you face. Some apps create vulnerabilities to hackers, as when the NSO Group stole data from phones via WhatsApp.
In addition to unauthorized outside access to your business data, there is the risk of disgruntled employees. Allowing communications via personal WhatsApp, WeChat, and related apps can make it easier for clients to be poached or IP stolen. Limiting these unrestricted communication methods protects your business.
While you want to protect the business, you must also protect the privacy rights of employees. A company policy may give you the right to view personal messengers for business communication. However, this also allows you unwarranted access to the private details of your employees’ personal life. Policy must balance the company’s right to information and the worker’s right to privacy.
Beyond an employee’s right to privacy is also the way in which people can misuse communication tools. A recent case at PNC Global Logistics highlights how harassment can happen through apps such as WeChat and WhatsApp. Ensuring your company policy on messaging apps is clear, helps to protect staff from harassment.
A Company Instant Messaging Policy Protects Stakeholders
The misuse, abuse, or negligent use of messaging apps for work can make customer and stakeholder data vulnerable. The ability to upload data from an app on a phone puts contact and business information at risk. It may even allow the transfer of the data onto external servers. This puts stakeholder information at risk and can violate data-sharing agreements.
The EU’s GDPR rules create obligations to protect the data of its citizens. Not protecting stakeholder information in this way could have serious legal consequences, including fines of up to €20 million.
When you are writing your company instant messaging policy you need to ensure that you include information about when those messengers can be used as well as when they cannot. You can easily install concept solutions like the LeapXpert FMOP, enabling you to maintain effective control over your B2C communication to clients messengers.
Company Instant Messaging Policy: Technical Solutions
In addition to a very clear and concise policy, if you are considering using a technology-based solution, there are some things you should look for.
This is one of the key concerns with instant messaging or business messaging apps. Your solution needs to store all data locally and ensure information stays with the company rather than the employee.
Integrated Compliance Controls
This means that everything is recorded. No matter what the platform, you need to make sure you have a solid digital audit trail of all incoming and outgoing business communication between your employees and your clients.
Any technological system you use needs to be able to work with current popular messaging platforms or it won’t be used. You want all incoming communications to be stored in a central location in a single piece of software. But you want to be able to send communications in any messaging platform.
Whatever solution you use, it has use multi-factor authorization and military-grade encryption. You want to ensure that the solution you are installing is more secure than the apps it is replacing.
You should still develop a solid company instant messaging policy to ensure that everyone is very clear on the rules, applications and appropriate uses. However, LeapXpert’s Federated Messaging Orchestration Platform is currently the balanced solution on the market for providing a technological solution to support a well-crafted policy.
Once your company instant messaging policy is written, you need to implement it. Again, an FMOP could certainly be one of the best ways you implement this policy in the company.