BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) vs Data Security

Privacy

Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, continues to present organisations with significant opportunities as well as challenges. It is possible to maximise the benefits of BYOD without introducing a large amount of risk if one follows the correct method to recognise the risks associated with BYOD and develops an effective policy about it. 

As the number of employees who use their own devices grows, more businesses are starting to allow employees to bring their own devices to work. The purpose of a BYOD policy is to ensure that employees utilise rigorous security measures when establishing a connection to the company network to eliminate the requirement for employees to carry two phones.

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Why BYOD is Beneficial for Employees

BYOD offers significant advantages to businesses as well as the employees of those businesses. To begin, it results in a major increase in convenience for employees because they are no longer required to always carry multiple devices with them. The flexibility also lets users pick the product that best suits their needs and preferences.

Since employees are expected to use their own devices, businesses benefit from BYOD because the IT department does not need to make additional purchases of devices. This solution greatly lowers their expenditures and eases some of the stress associated with supporting those devices.

The practice of bringing one's own device to work is becoming increasingly common among employees in recent years. According to the findings of a survey conducted by Tech Pro Research back in November 2014, 74 per cent of companies either already permitted employees to bring their personal devices to work or plan to allow employees to do so soon.

Advantages of BYOD in Workplaces

Certain businesses do not have the financial means to provide each employee with a device, and other businesses do not mandate that workers of every department acquire a gadget for professional use. The following are some advantages of BYOD policies, from the point of view of both the organisation and the employee:

  • With BYOD, businesses can save money on hardware purchases because employees are free to use their own devices for work.
  • The overhead costs associated with setting up and managing company-issued devices are lesser. In addition, there are no hidden fees associated with implementing an MDM system (unless the BYOD policy mandates personal devices to also be connected to an MDM solution).
  • There are higher levels of satisfaction among workers because of being able to use personal devices and operating systems and there's no drawn-out procedure to get started.
  • The ability to utilise their own devices for work-related communication increases productivity and flexibility because workers can get things done whenever and wherever they happen to be.
  • Integrating remote workers and outside parties into the company's internal communication system is a breeze. This includes both internal and external parties who may not have access to the company's internal network.

What are the Risks Associated with BYOD?

The practice of permitting employees to use their own mobile devices for work-related communication can have significant repercussions for organisations, particularly in the absence of a mobile device management (MDM) system and if the devices are not properly managed.

Malware Issues

It is common practice for workers to use their own devices to access the company intranet and download resources like PDFs and software. Important company information could be compromised if employees don't properly isolate it from their own personal information. An employee could, for instance, download a game to their work phone that contains spyware. 

Once the worker logs in from the infected device, the malware could spread throughout the company's network. Strict usage regulations can reduce the possibility of malware entering an organisation's network.

Data Breach

If you allow employees to use their own devices without oversight, you should be aware that some of the apps they use at home may not adhere to the same level of security standards as their work counterparts. They risk disclosing sensitive company information if a personal account is compromised.

Inadequately handled personal devices can present the perfect opportunity for cybercriminals to acquire potentially valuable company data. 

Lost Devices

The loss or theft of a work-related gadget is, at best, an inconvenient situation for the affected worker. However, in the worst case, you're facing a catastrophic situation. The loss or theft of an employee's equipment could result in a serious breach if the individual was not adhering to the company's security policies. For example, an employee's use of an unprotected note app to store their personal and work passwords could leave the company vulnerable to a breach.

Legal Trouble

The reputation of a company, and especially a managed service provider (MSP), can be ruined by a security breach. Since MSPs' clients count on them to keep their devices safe, the company could face legal action and other consequences if an employee's personal device causes a data breach.

It can be prohibitively expensive for certain businesses to mount a successful legal defence. Due to this, MSPs must be cautious and prompt when adopting BYOD procedures for their customers.

Establishing a BYOD Policy for Securing Data

Establishing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) security strategy is a vital step in ensuring the safety of your business in an era when more and more workers are bringing their own devices to the office. 

Also, your BYOD policy should have a clear service policy for BYOD devices. This should include how the IT team helps employees connect to the company network; how it helps with apps installed on personal devices; and how it helps to solve problems between personal apps and company apps.

The ownership of apps and data, which apps are allowed, and which are not, and whether employees will be reimbursed for their usage (for example, will the firm reimburse a basic use fee, pay for select apps or a portion of monthly expenses) should all be laid out in your BYOD policy. Additionally, it needs to specify the minimum-security standards that must be met by BYOD gadgets.

It is important to have well-defined policies that specify the steps that must be taken when an employee leaves the organisation, such as the IT department erasing the person's device.

Finally, a documented BYOD policy should include disclosure of risks, liabilities, and disclaimers. This includes both the company's responsibility to protect an employee's private information if a device must be wiped for security purposes and the employee's responsibility to prevent the disclosure of confidential corporate information due to carelessness or malice on their part.

Components of a BYOD Policy

Password Recommendations: Password security measures are a must for any organisation or customer data that must remain secure. Having a robust password on all devices, including smartphones and PCs, is a must at most workplaces. Passwords should be frequently updated. For example, updating every 30 or 90 days is common. The use of two-factor authentication for all company-managed software and services used by staff members on their own devices is also recommended.

Security Updates: In addition to adding new capabilities, patches and updates can help protect the code from previously discovered vulnerabilities. Updating hardware and software is a crucial aspect of digital security and should be incorporated into any policy governing the usage of digital devices at the workplace or at home.

Privacy Safeguards: Even though it is stored on a device that is not controlled by the firm, the data belonging to the company is nonetheless considered to be company property. Data security and privacy for employees should be top priorities for any BYOD strategy. When employees use their own devices for work, some organisations make it clear that they should not anticipate any sort of privacy.

Data Sharing: Just one employee downloading and using a new app that has access to private information is enough to cause a breach. An individual may face substantial legal consequences if they use an unauthorised app to send data and that app is subsequently compromised. Only encrypted files should be transferred through the company-required apps and should be protected with a password.

Responsible Usage Guidelines: A policy that only lays out a set of rules without specifying any sort of consequences for violating those rules is ineffective. Your policy should elaborate on how responsibility is monitored and corrected. Everyone on the team needs to be aware of not only the rules for proper device use but also the repercussions of not protecting sensitive company information.

Like enterprise security, BYOD security necessitates a multi-pronged strategy to counteract threats while limiting interference with workers' freedom to use their own devices for non-work purposes. To guarantee company security in the BYOD scenario, it is essential to implement context-aware security solutions that combine encryption with control over user access, apps, network connectivity, and devices. 

Organisations that embrace these solutions leverage the benefits of BYOD, such as increased employee productivity and job satisfaction, while addressing the security threats that traditionally plagued BYOD.

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