Gone are the days when employees were only allowed to use the company-provided devices to perform their duties. Over the last decade, several organizations and educational institutes have embraced the concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
The said concept has proven to be beneficial for both employees and employers. However, certain security challenges have prompted companies to doubt BYOD’s effectiveness.
So, should a company not invest in BYOD in the first place to bypass the risks linked with it?
But not embracing such a widely-adopted culture can upset the employees and affect their productivity:
Therefore, a company must consult with its stakeholders and employees to devise an effective BYOD policy. This practice is crucial for a company that intends to maintain a healthy work environment while tackling the challenges brought forth by BYOD.
- BYOD by the Numbers
- Advantages of Allowing Employees to Bring Their Own Devices to Work
- Security Risks Associated with the Adoption of BYOD Culture
- Helpful Guidelines to Strengthen BYOD Security & Safeguard the Organizational Network
BYOD by the Numbers
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is the permission an employee acquires to use their personally-owned gadgets for work purposes. It involves the said devices gaining access to the organization’s private network.
According to Trend Micro, nine out of every ten employees in the US use their smartphones at work. Moreover, approximately 82% of companies allow their employees to do work on their personal gadgets.
However, the security risks that come with BYOD aren’t a myth. Trend Micro’s research also revealed that a whopping 50% of companies that implemented BYOD were breached via employees’ personal devices.
Advantages of Allowing Employees to Bring Their Own Devices to Work
There are many reasons why almost 74% of companies have already implemented or are considering to embrace the concept of Bring Your Own Device:
- Employees tend to enjoy their work more when allowed to work from their own device(s).
- Employees’ increased productivity allows companies to make an extra $5,114 per year.
- Companies tend to save thousands of dollars by not providing employees with their own devices.
Security Risks Associated with the Adoption of BYOD Culture
Before devising a policy to minimize the risks, a company must identify the security challenges of BYOD.
1) Unauthorized Access
To allow employees to use their own devices at work, the IT team should make the organizational network accessible to them. This would require the team to lift numerous restrictions. And in the absence of these restrictions, it would become easier for hackers to break into the network.
Moreover, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to assume that at least some of the employee-owned systems could be plagued with malware. These harmful programs might attempt to infect the company’s private network, putting confidential data at risk.
2) Device Misplacement or Theft
Misplacing a device containing sensitive company information or having it stolen could prove to be severely harmful for the said organization. It doesn’t matter whether the thief or the person who acquires the misplaced device has ill intentions or not: Merely the thought of an outsider having access to company details is alarming.
3) Data Leakage
Throughout an 8-hour workday, a considerable amount of data is transmitted to external devices. This creates an opening for data to leak. The concerning part is that such data may turn out to be confidential company details.
In short, the IT department doesn’t usually have much control over devices that aren’t issued by the company itself. It creates difficulties in identifying and addressing numerous security risks linked with the implementation of the BYOD culture.
Helpful Guidelines to Strengthen BYOD Security & Safeguard the Organizational Network
We have mentioned the challenges that an organization has to face after implementing BYOD. Now, let’s move on and discuss some helpful tips and tricks that could eliminate or minimize such security risks:
1. Implement Password Policy
Before providing network access to any external device, IT must ensure that the said gadget has a password protecting it. Additionally, the password must be strong and should be changed every couple of months. This cybersecurity trick goes a long way in foiling the cybercriminals’ plans.
Lastly, different devices or accounts accessible via the same device shouldn’t be protected by the same password.
Two-factor authentication could also come in handy here. It adds an extra layer of security to programs and applications that the employee accesses from their personal devices.
2. Make Installation of Anti-Virus a Mandatory Process
For employees bringing their own devices to work, installing credible anti-virus and anti-spyware programs is a must.
Anti-viruses do an excellent job of protecting a system against known viruses. On the other hand, an effective anti-spyware program offers protection against malicious Spywares.
However, only those anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are suitable for installation that are compatible with the mobile management suite.
3. Encrypt Data
To establish a secure connection with the organization’s private network, one must use VPNs or ensure that the files transmitted over the internet are encrypted.
4. Restrict Access
While BYOD refers to an employee using their own device for work, it’s a human tendency to deviate from the path. Thus, an employee might check out certain sites and applications that they shouldn’t while using the company’s resources.
To resolve the problem mentioned above, the company needs to place certain restrictions to enhance network security. However, the IT team must ensure that these restrictions don’t deny employees access to sites and applications relevant to their respective duties.
5. Back Up Data
Data loss and theft are quite common these days. Therefore, advise your employees to create backups of all kinds of data on their systems, especially company details. DropBox and Google Drive are some credible tools when it comes to backing up information.
6. Integrate Remote-Wipe Functionality
Giving employees’ personal devices access to your company’s network will lead to them storing confidential data on their systems. If they happen to lose their systems, the company data might be at risk.
This calls for a remote-wipe functionality that the company can utilize to erase critical data on the stolen or misplaced device. Remote-wipe functionality also comes in handy when an employee (using their own device for work) leaves the company or retires.
7. Constantly Update Security Policies
No matter how efficient you are in enforcing BYOD policies, security risks never go away. Hackers and cybercriminals are always working on their craft.
This is why the IT team within a company needs to remain ready for new challenges 24/7. This practice might help IT identify unknown risks to the security and diffuse them before they cause any harm.