How to Manage Security With Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

BYOD security

More and more companies are allowing – or expecting – employees to bring their own computing devices with them to their workplace. Those devices can be smartphones, laptops or even tablets. In these circumstances, it’s important to have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) security policy to make sure any device used in the workplace is protected as much as possible from cyber crime. It can be a challenge that a managed service provider can help you solve.

Once, workers only used company-issued devices in the workplace. Because of this, the potential for an employee to introduce security risks to a company was lower. But now, nearly all employees come to work with their own internet-connected devices. 

It’s one thing for an employee to bring a personal device to work and use it for their personal communications. This can still create risks, but the most substantial security risks are associated with employees using personal devices to conduct business, sending work-related emails or actually accessing secure company applications from their own smartphones or tablets.

The difference here is essential: On one hand, employees are using their personal devices at work and on the other, employees are using their personal devices to conduct work. Devices that are brought to the workplace but do not have access to the company network are not usually problematic. It’s necessary to have rules clearly defined by BYOD security policies and enforcement.

The Challenges of BYOD Security

BYOD security is often a challenge for enterprises and small to medium businesses (SMBs) alike. In order to be effective, companies must have some form of control over smartphones, tablets and laptops that are not owned by the company but are employees’ personal assets. As BYOD security has become more commonplace and awareness of security risks has grown, BYOD security policies are becoming more widely adopted and accepted by both companies and their employees.

The Need for BYOD Security

One recent study reported that the BYOD market will reach more than $350 billion by 2022 (up from $94 billion in 2014), and significant growth is expected in the global BYOD market between 2020 and 2026. This growth is being driven by heightened smartphone demand and employees’ desire to perform work-related tasks such as sending emails even when they are outside the office. Of course the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the work-from-home culture and made it necessary for employees to access work-related applications from their personal devices, as well.

It’s likely for employees to use personal mobile devices to conduct business activities whether or not the company has prior knowledge or policies regarding the use of personal devices. In other words, companies that choose to ignore the likely use of personal devices are turning a blind eye to what could be a serious security risk.

Defining a BYOD Security Policy

Defining a BYOD security policy is a critical step, and can be addressed by your internal IT staff or an outsourced managed service provider. TechTarget SearchMobile Computing outlines a few essential elements of a BYOD policy, including:

  • Acceptable use: applications and assets that employees are permitted to access from their personal devices.
  • Minimum required security controls for devices.
  • Company-provided components, such as SSL certificates for device authentication.
  • Company rights for altering the device, such as remote wiping for lost or stolen devices.

In an article for CIO, Jonathan Hassell reports about components of effective BYOD security policies, such as defining allowed device types and creating a strict security policy for all devices. For example, in their everyday lives, employees may choose not to use native security features, such as the ability to lock device screens or require passwords, because these features create additional steps that may seem inconvenient. Employees can be motivated to make use of these simple features when clear company policies exist, and even simple measures can enhance company security.

Additionally, your BYOD security policy should simply outline a service policy for BYOD devices, including what support is available from IT for employees connecting to the company network, support for applications installed on personal devices and support for resolving conflicts between personal applications and company applications.

BYOD Security Tools

While BYOD presents new risks, there are things that a managed service provider or a business can do to make them less scary and less common. 

Each device accesses corporate assets and applications through individualized protected environments. Operating systems like Apple’s IOS allow containerization. It can give control to organizations over work applications.

Segmentation is a tool protecting corporate networks from the risks of BYOD devices. Segmentation tools ensure these devices are isolated on the corporate network by using leverage network policies. Viruses, malware and other cyber attacks on those devices cannot move laterally across the network to sensitive corporate information. 

Other technologies such as encryption and mobile device management (MDM) are also helpful.

Pro Help With BYOD Security

Because technology tools are needed each workday, one of the most effective defenses for BYOD security is often simply employee education. We can help ensure employees are fully educated through a security training program. Learning how to properly use their devices, how to handle corporate information or conduct business activities on those devices and how to spot potential signs of an attack can help prevent cyber crime.

Get ahead of BYOD issues by setting up your defenses and preparing your employees with a plan. Ask us how or call (248) 357-3980.

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Amanda Frietsch

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