Employees have different relationships with technology. Some take time to get to know their devices and are loyal to them until they are no longer supported. Others love upgrading to the latest and greatest options as soon as they hit the market. That’s one big reason more organizations are adopting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) options these days.
In addition, BYOD can generate significant benefits for an organization that include reducing costs due to not needing to purchase devices for employees. Studies show that BYOD also increases productivity, mobility, boosts employee satisfaction, and offers better access to advanced technology.
That said, BYOD security risks can also increase substantially as a result. Understanding these risks as well as steps that can be taken to reduce those risks is critical in today’s BYOD landscape.
What is a BYOD Security Policy?
Creating a BYOD security policy is perhaps one of the most important and initial steps a business can take in this process. Here are some key components that should be included in a BYOD security policy:
- Written agreement. When employees wish to use their own devices for work, they should be required to sign an acceptable usage agreement that clearly outlines privacy, access, data plan payment, security expectations, and other details for both sides. This helps IT maintain governance of all devices accessing corporate systems and data.
- Over-the-air configuration. After employees enroll in a company’s BYOD system, be sure to deliver all profiles, credentials, and settings they need over the air to keep everyone up to date.
- Privacy boundaries. As employees use personal devices, it’s important that they understand that privacy laws prevent companies from collecting information related to personal emails, voicemails or calendars, photos, locations, and usernames or passwords. An encrypted container can help separate personal and professional information.
- Continuous monitoring. A corporate BYOD security policy should monitor devices on an ongoing basis for certain common violations and incorporate automated remediation. This could include attempting to remove corporate device management or attempting to bypass an operating system.
Top BYOD Security Risks
Even with a strong corporate BYOD policy in place, organizations must understand that security risks will still abound with BYOD usage. Here are some common risks:
- Lost or stolen devices. If personal devices are lost or stolen, any corporate information or vulnerable access can fall into the wrong hands, especially if basic protections are missing from the devices.
- Disgruntled employees. Unhappy employees or those who have been fired may potentially retaliate by misusing their access to company data or systems. Although there are limited actions while the employees still have access, removing privileges quickly at termination can mitigate risk.
- Missing basic protection. Personal devices may lack the necessary firewall or anti-virus protection, making them more vulnerable to bad actors. Often this is a failure in communicating expectations.
- Unsecured WiFi. Security risks can be increased when employees use unsecured WiFi to try to access company data and systems. This may include using open networks in hotels or other public places.
Eliminating Risk with BYOD Security Best Practices
Although it’s impossible to eliminate all security risks, companies can implement best practices to substantially reduce their risks associated with BYOD systems.
One of the best BYOD security solutions is to rely on a cloud-based, virtual desktop interface (VDI). Hosted VDI systems provide centralized storage of a company’s operating systems, applications, software, and data, making it significantly easier to govern, secure and manage. Employees then use personal devices as virtual endpoints, accessing only and all the information they need to do their individual jobs.
Here are other best practices to consider adopting:
- Formalize BYOD policy. As discussed earlier, having a formal BYOD security policy is critical to ensuring that all employees, as well as management, are on the same page when it comes to expectations and compliance. This should include what devices are acceptable, which protections are required, reporting procedures, disciplinary actions for non-compliance and so forth.
- Ongoing security training. Employees should be continually reminded about good security habits in terms of their own devices as well as behavior. For example, communicating common phishing warnings can go a long way in employee's self-policing against bad actors.
- Carefully curated access. Although companies want employees, especially those working in a remote or hybrid environment, to remain as productive as possible, it’s important to find that balance of providing access to all necessary systems, software, and data in order for team members to do their jobs without introducing any vulnerabilities created by unnecessary access.
- Efficient decommissioning process. New employees need to get their devices up and running as quickly as possible when joining a company; however, the opposite must also be true. As soon as employees leave the organization, their devices must be able to be immediately decommissioned to protect business resources.
To learn more about top BYOD security risks and how to mitigate them, reach out to Evolve IP today. We have years of experience in helping companies manage security issues related to hybrid and remote workforces and would love to learn more about yours.