It isn't until an incident happens to a user that he or she starts to see the issues. When I went to the second day of my daughter's tournament, you bet I put on sunscreen. I had no desire to run the risk or make myself any worse. A similar lesson from a bad experience happened to my daughter's coach: His apartment was broken into on Friday night. A deadbolt was installed on Saturday, and he asked what he could do to protect his laptop in the future because his had been stolen.
The sad bit is that even though we can train our users six different ways to Sunday, unless they can internalize the experience of losing their device or having it compromised, it is very difficult to get them to follow form.
However, that human reality doesn't mean we can't force the issue by using mobile device management (MDM) tools or Exchange ActiveSync password policies. But doing so will cause more grumbling or even employees avoiding the use of personal devices in a corporate setting, reducing their work flexibility and availability.
It is a lot easier to win users over to your side of security when you make the issue about them. When you talk to your users, especially if you have a BYOD program, spend less time talking about the corporate data and more time focusing on their personal data. Do they want someone to be able to get into their bank account? How about if a thief could post on Facebook or Twitter as them? Have discussions about the kind of data they keep on their phone and teach them to protect that. You get to protect your corporate data too, but your users will care about their own stuff.
When you show users what's in it for them, you have a better shot that they will buy into the program. It's always easy to get a sunburn, but it's even easier to protect yourself against one if you know why you're doing it and when you need to.
This article, "When users protect their data, they protect the business's data, too," originally appeared at A Screw's Loose and is republished at InfoWorld.com with permission (© Brian Katz). Read more of Brian Katz's The Squeaky Wheel blog at InfoWorld.com or at A Screw's Loose. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.