As the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, many workers switched to working from home (WFH) in order to keep companies running with as few hindrances as possible. However, the rather makeshift nature of this arrangement has inevitably opened up some security risks.
Many of those pertain to BYOD (bring your own device). A policy that has long permitted employees to use their own, personal devices for work purposes, BYOD now allows workers to use these devices – including smartphones, laptops, and tablets – this way in their homes, where issues have consequently arisen.
Traditional advantages and drawbacks of BYOD have intensified
For many workers, the appeal of BYOD is largely in the increased comfort level it affords. Your own devices are, after all, devices you chose yourself and are already thoroughly familiar with, having perhaps used them frequently long before you started using them for work, too.
However, personal devices often lack security protocols that, though cumbersome on many employer-supplied gadgets, help to guard against cyber risks peculiar to the world of work. A compromised device could allow a hacker to access a company’s network and data without leaving any discernible trail.
Also Read: A Complete Guide to BYOD Security
Simple ways to counter security risks of BYOD
With the pandemic looking likely to linger for a while to come yet, the case is clear for employers to introduce new, more robust BYOD policies to account for our socially-distanced world.
Insurance Journal suggests: “Rather than a blanket ban on personal devices, dummy terminals and secure apps can be installed enabling employees to access company data without compromising security.”
Employers can also insist on their employees routinely installing the latest software patches on their personal devices – enabling this tech to be quickly rid of bugs or software vulnerabilities that, otherwise, hackers could discover and then eagerly exploit.
A network security expert speaks on the BYOD issue
Tech Xplore has posted an enlightening interview with Vyas Sekar, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on network security.
In the interview, Sekar admitted that, before the pandemic, businesses “were always worried about people bringing their own devices – their own laptops or their own phones that might be carrying malware and could infect the enterprise’s network.” However, he added: “It’s the opposite problem now – you’ve brought your enterprise network into your home.”
He said that for people working from home, “using enterprise VPNs is even more critical right now, just to make sure work-related information cannot leak onto public networks.” Many employers could consider giving their WFH employees access to a particularly advanced VPN solution like Wandera’s Zero Trust Network Access, which has been found to be four times faster than alternative VPNs.
Nonetheless, Sekar has also urged WFH workers to use, when possible, company-issued – rather than personal – devices to carry out work, as the former “are typically much more protected”. If you ever do need to use personal devices for work, you should run anti-malware software to maintain good cyber hygiene, he further added.