Are your employees allowed to use their personal devices for work in your company? Which BYOD security solutions have you implemented? What are the risks of not having an MDM (Mobile Device Management) strategy?
The rise of hybrid work has encouraged the adoption of the BYOD concept. This system offers many advantages, like cutting costs on hardware and letting team members work on equipment they are comfortable with. Yet, it also has some downsides. Data protection is one of them.
Initially, a BYOD policy is an asset for businesses. However, it becomes a liability if you don’t focus on developing a BYOD cybersecurity plan with effective measures.
For those of you who don’t know us yet, we are a tech company whose goal is to support organizations with hybrid work. Therefore, this article tells you everything you need to know about BYOD security risks and the best solutions to keep your data safe and secure at all times.
BYOD cybersecurity: definition, goals, and risks
The three core pillars of BYOD security
Developing a cybersecurity plan to adopt BYOD practices is not only about making two-step authentication mandatory. Technology and employees also play a critical role. To create an effective BYOD security strategy, IT professionals must consider three components: tools, processes, and people. We insist on “must”. The whole infrastructure is at risk if one of these three elements is not taken into account.
As an IT professional, your role is to find the right tools to protect the company’s data located on the personal devices of your colleagues. Various solutions are available. First, you have to analyze the current security infrastructure and your weaknesses. Second, you must prioritize technologies that align with your needs and are scalable. Embracing automated systems and AI in the workplace is vital to secure your digital infrastructure.
Analyzing processes is also fundamental to detecting high-risk behaviors and developing procedures to avoid malware infection. How do your colleagues log into their personal devices? How do they access the company’s information? Which measures do you currently implement to protect sensitive data and prevent cyberattacks? All of these questions are essential to determine if your methods are secure.
Users play a significant role in determining whether your BYOD security solutions are effective. These protective measures and technologies are futile if people misuse them. This is why the human aspect is as crucial as the two other pillars of BYOD cybersecurity.
There are different types of BYOD policies, including CYOD (Choose Your Own Device), COPE (Company Owned/Personally Enabled), and COBO (Company Owned/Business Only). If your firm chooses the first option, meaning employees can work on their personal devices, controlling these resources is complicated as they don’t belong to the organization.
On the one hand, this hardware contains the company’s data, which must stay confidential and protected. On the other hand, it is difficult to impose rules for workers to apply on their private phones, tablets, laptops, and USB drives without hindering their freedom.
Finding the right balance that ensures data protection and security while enabling people to use their own tools the way they want is the biggest challenge for IT teams. How can you preserve the company’s data while remaining fair, respectful, and ethical? Before digging into the solutions, let’s analyze the BYOD cybersecurity risks.
The BYOD security risks
The BYOD concept raises data protection and security issues for several reasons. Here are the leading causes of malware, cyberattacks, and data loss.
Unsecured Internet connections
Letting employees use their personal devices for work means that they can access your corporate network from anywhere, at any time, and from any Internet connection. For example, it can be a public WIFI at the airport or in a coffee shop. Those unsecured networks make your data more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Higher risk of malware infection
Let’s be honest here. Who reads the terms and conditions when downloading a new mobile app? Most of us don’t, and your employees are probably no different. This increases the risks of malware infection. This can also happen when visiting a scammy website or opening a file. Having control over this aspect without hindering how your staff uses their private devices is very difficult.
Ensuring employees work on updated hardware and software is easier when they use company-owned devices. However, when your team members use their personal equipment, you risk that they don’t install the latest updates, increasing your cyber risk exposure.
Data security risks exposure
What happens if your employees lose their mobile phones or get them stolen? Their devices can fall into the wrong hands, and so can your confidential data. But with malware infection and cyberattack risks due to unsecured connections or practices, data security risks increase massively with a BYOD policy. So, what are the best solutions to ensure BYOD security?
BYOD security solutions: enhancing tech, processes, and people
The best tech measures to ensure BYOD security
Implementation of SASE solutions
SASE stands for Secure Access Service Edge. It gathers WAN and multiple network security services, like ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access) measures, into a single cloud-based solution. Using SASE technologies helps you better control the risks of cyberattacks your corporate network is exposed to. It includes:
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA);
Secure Web Gateway (SWG);
Branch Firewall As A Service (FWaaS);
Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB);
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN);
Integrated Advanced Threat Prevention;
Data Loss Prevention (DLP).
Installation of the best antivirus
Antiviruses are still one of the best ways to protect your data and your employees’ devices. Ensuring all personal equipment your staff uses for work has an antivirus installed which is up-to-date is fundamental to reinforcing BYOD security.
This is especially important to fight one of the most significant risks of introducing a BYOD policy: malware infection. Antivirus software prevents your team members from having their tools contaminated when downloading new apps, opening unprotected files, or scrolling on the Internet.
In addition to passwords and two-step authentication, data encryption is a must to keep your confidential information safe and secure when accessing personal devices. This enables you to ensure that your sensitive data remains private if your team members connect to an unsecured network or get their phones, tablets, computers, or USB drives stolen. This protection measure must be applied to all data in transit and at rest.
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The most effective strategies to guarantee safe and secure processes with the BYOD approach
Implementation of an MDM plan
Mobile Device Management is at the center of BYOD security. IT teams must use this approach to run BYOD devices safely and remotely. To do so, a tailored MDM strategy must be conceived and applied with effective mobile device management tools.
This allows you to keep control over your employees’ devices remotely and prevent any cybersecurity threats. It is also crucial to block access and wipe sensitive data in case the hardware gets lost or stolen and when your team members leave the company.
Containerization enables you to keep your confidential information and documents safe while letting workers use their own devices without being restricted. They cannot access personal applications and content when they enter a contained workspace. This security approach creates a protective barrier between private and professional usage.
Remember that the biggest challenge for IT teams is to find the balance between protecting corporate data and respecting the employees’ freedom to use their hardware as they want. Implementing containerization in a BYOD environment is a great solution to crack this ethical issue.
Key BYOD security solution from a human perspective
Creation of BYOD policy
Now that you know the best practices to implement regarding your tools and processes, you should remember the cornerstone of an effective BYOD security strategy: people. Take the time to discuss with other departments to design a transparent and detailed BYOD policy for all team members entitled to use their own devices for work.
It needs to stand all the rules toward this approach and help employees understand this concept’s dos and don’ts clearly. To ensure they know the directions and apply them thoroughly, we recommend that you require each team member to use their private hardware to sign the BYOD policy for professional purposes.
BYOD security training for all employees
Reading and signing a document about the BYOD rules can be very abstract for employees. Therefore, it is fundamental to educate them about the risks of using personal equipment for work. This is not only to help them understand the importance of BYOD security practices but also to inform them about the latest cybersecurity threats. Training should be a major component of your BYOD cybersecurity strategy. Lastly, being available for your colleagues is essential so they can ask any online security questions and report issues.
You are now all set to start implementing BYOD security solutions in your hybrid work environment and ensure your data remains safe and confidential when used on your staff’s personal devices. While BYOD practices are a key advantage for companies allowing remote work, developing and reinforcing BYOD cybersecurity is crucial so this asset doesn’t become a liability. Your strategy must guarantee that your technologies, processes, and people’s behaviors are always secure. Moreover, understanding that cybersecurity is not only the responsibility of IT but the whole workforce’s concern is a priority. As usual, collaboration is vital, and employees are the backbone of your organization, which can either make it thrive or collapse.
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Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.