As the pandemic raged, our attention was hijacked by the sudden rise of the work-from-home movement. But, behind the scenes, another lesser-known trend was busy with its own slow ascent to popularity: The bring your own device (BYOD) movement.
For many companies, the BYOD movement has been a happy byproduct of personal technology. The logic is simple: If employees already own their own powerful computers, be it a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, why waste company money on acquiring redundant enterprise technology?
BYOD also benefits employees, giving them the opportunity to use an operating system they were already familiar with and enjoyed. A win-win, right? Not exactly. In this article, we discuss what the BYOD model is, the four major risks of BYOD, and what you can do to resolve them.
What Is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?
Bring your own device (BYOD) is a workplace policy that allows, and even encourages, employees to use their personal devices for work. This approach exists in stark contrast to the traditional practice of assigning dedicated enterprise devices to employees.
Needless to day, the BYOD trend has been met with mixed reception. While some workplaces strictly prohibit the use of personal devices for work, others are pushing for complete BYOD adoption. For many companies, however, the line between BYOD and the traditional approach isn’t so clear-cut. Today, many businesses employ a mix of both models.
In fact, as far back as 2016, roughly 87% of employees claimed to use at least one personal device for work-related purposes. This indicates that even workers with a dedicated work laptop may find themselves using their smartphone for work-related purposes.
Top 4 BYOD Security Risks
When it comes to business technology, security protocols are tantamount. And yet, one of the most glaring problems with BYOD is the lack thereof. Though some businesses have taken steps to increase personal device security, most companies have not.
In this section, we discuss the four greatest BYOD risks and issues, as well as what steps you can take to deal with them.
1. Increased Chance of a Data Breach
One of the most obvious BYOD risks is the heightened chance of data leakage or a data breach. The truth is that the cost-savings associated with BYOD pale in comparison to the cost of a data breach which, in 2022, reached an all-time high of $4.35 million per incident.
Implement strict and comprehensive security measures and tools on all personal devices used in the workplace.
One of these measures should be a complete restriction on jailbroken, rooted, or unlocked devices. Overriding the manufacturer’s restrictions makes these devices particularly vulnerable to malware.
For example, an employee may download a fun and innocent-looking puzzle app. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, hackers are using the app as a backdoor to steal information.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of mobile device and application management tools that can be implemented to control BYOD situations internally.
One example is Microsoft Intune, a cloud-based tool that helps you control how your company’s devices are used while configuring policies to control applications, such as preventing emails from being sent to people who are not part of your internal network.
Another example is ConnectWise Manage, a form of Professional Service Automation (PSA) software. It enables you to connect your entire business and create a unified view through a single layer of data to determine and clarify what is happening within your organization.
2. Public and Unsecured WiFi Networks
Work-from-home doesn’t always mean working from home. In fact, many employees find productivity is better stimulated in a novel environment such as a café or library. With the added convenience of free WiFi, what’s not to like?
Unfortunately, these free public networks are even more attractive to would-be thieves.
To secure your corporate data, ensure that employees never connect to a public network. Instead, provide them with a virtual private network (VPN), a secure WiFi connection, or an option to tether/hotspot their mobile phone to their laptop.
3. Unencrypted Data Transfer
Whether it’s an Excel file, an email, or an internal message, data is constantly being exchanged from one work device to another. Though the process seems instantaneous, this short journey does pose some danger, even on company networks.
Encryption is king when it comes to secure data transfer. Consider implementing a mobile content manager (MCM). This is a comprehensive way to monitor, manage, and encrypt sensitive data in personal mobile devices.
Alternatively, you can opt for a more narrow and cost-effective mobile security approach known as “containerization.”
Containers allow admins to design encrypted, segregated, and policy-enabled environments where company data lives, without taking over the entirety of an employee’s device.
This approach has the combined benefit of keeping corporate data safe and employee data private. Another advantage of both MCM and containerization is that admins can remotely wipe data from personal devices when employees leave the company.
4. Lost or Stolen Devices
Devices used for both work and play have a much higher chance of vanishing. That’s because they don’t just live in the cubicle or home office. Instead, these devices tag along wherever employees go, even outside of working hours.
This means lost or stolen devices represent one of the greatest security risks of BYOD. In fact, any security breach within your organization has a 25% chance of being caused by a lost or stolen device.
The low-hanging fruit here is to equip every device with a strong password. You can even take this a step further with fingerprint- or facial-recognition.
You might also consider using 2 or Multiple Factor Authentication (2FA and MFA) strategies to add further layers of security to your mobile devices.
Ultimately, combining two or more methods of authentication is your best bet at keeping company data safe on an employee’s device.
Interested in learning more about avoiding security risks? Check out these blogs:
Overcome BYOD Security Risks With Executech
Despite the cost-savings and practicality, there are many bring your own device to work security issues organizations must learn to navigate. Now that you understand the four greatest BYOD risks, it’s time to take action. Not sure where to start?
At Executech, we’ve been helping businesses with their data security for over 20 years. As employees continue bringing their own devices to work, we’re committed to eliminating the security risks inherent to this trend.
Contact us today if you need help managing BYOD risks.