BYOD: A Bane Or A Boon

You must all have heard about a great concept that popularly goes by the name of BYOD. Bring Your Own Device was first coined in 2009, and our life has not been the same since then. Expanding at an incredible rate, this phenomenon has become the backbone of the entire IT industry. In no more than a few years, every business, big or small, is going to let employees use their own devices for work-related activities. But, as the concept is getting more popular with each passing second, there are also budding concerns about the security policies. Ensuring a good and effective BYOD security policy has become critical for all businesses today, irrespective of their sector. But, before delving straight into the BYOD security tips, let’s explore the concept a bit more.

What is BYOD

It is a concept not too hard to wrap our heads around. It is the practice of allowing employees to use their own devices. In the years gone and even years till now, the businesses allowed staff to use only company-issued devices. But, now, each business is gradually coming to terms with BYOD. For companies with high numbers of non-desk workers, the debate about BYOD is significantly essential. The concept has a plethora of benefits If you allow a remote workplace to use their personal mobile devices, you are enabling your company to bridge the otherwise wide communication gap between the non-desk employees and their desk-bound counterparts. In the next segment, we are going to talk about the benefits and the advantages of BYOD.

Advantages Of BYOD

  • The research reports show that employees are more productive when using their own device

If you force a person to work on a device they are not comfortable with, they will ignore any communication. And when you are bringing your own devices such as desktop, computers, tablets, smartwatches, you get to work more efficiently. As an employee, if you wish to ensure that relevant information gets to your employees on the right channels, it is recommended you let them work on their devices. Many employees believe that smartphones play a crucial role in employee productivity.

  • Flexibility is one of the most crucial vital factors for employee happiness

Being a significant part of workplace flexibility, BYOD helps in enhancing employee engagement, morale, and loyalty. The personnel who are allowed to work on their own devices tend to maintain a more excellent work-life balance. This would not only make the employees more productive, but they are also less likely to leave the company or take sick days.

  • Connecting your non-desk workers comes easily

It has always been easy for the desk-bound workers to work as the connections are secure. As for non-desk or remote workers, they have limited options for getting connected. As they are not provided with desks and other devices, they are most likely to feel left out. If you allow BYOD, all the employees will think inside the information loop, and you will be able to reach out to all your employees, no matter where they are.

  • Save a truckload of money per employee

If you provide all the employees with corporate mobile devices, you are most likely to go bankrupt. You can save a lot of money if you decide to allow your customers to bring their own devices. This concept also helps in eliminating device purchase and upgrade fees.

As advantageous and beneficial as this concept of BYOD is, it can be precarious as well. Apart from the technical glitches, security and privacy are the BYOD risks. While the technical glitches include accessing network resources like printers or shared files and addressing device compatibility issues, both organizations and employees are affected by security and privacy risks. Organizations tend to be more concerned about the confidentiality and privacy of their data. Here is a list of security risks that can affect your businesses.

  • Data leakage- Disclosure of enterprise data or potential data leakage from an unsecured device is one of the most significant risks.

  • Loss or theft of device- Personal devices tend to accompany the employee often wherever they go. This leads to a higher chance of the device being lost or stolen. This way, the company’s data that is stored or accessed on the device results in being compromised.

  • Middle attacks- No matter how fantastic the option of public Wi-Fi spots is, they are popular hunting grounds for criminals as well. These criminals use man-in-the-middle-attacks to intercept data being transmitted over public networks.

  • Jailbroken devices- Jailbreaking is the process of removing the restrictions imposed by manufacturers of a device. Power users use this process to allow the installation of unauthorized software.

  • Decreased local control and visibility- When the employees bring their own devices, they are enhancing the chances of being disappeared. The more devices there are connecting to a network, the higher the possibility that a device and its activities will go unseen or undetected. There are chances that either the device or the network might prevent it from appearing on the list of connected devices.

  • Cross-contamination- The likelihood of sending the wrong material to the wrong contact increases when a user houses both personal and corporate information on the same device. Private communications might receive sensitive corporate data while coworkers may receive personal information. Both scenarios are most likely to have dramatic ramifications.

  • Malware and Viruses- As the physical restrictions of a small device make phishing attacks easy, malware tends to attack phones. In the same way, employee-owned devices are exposed to more opportunities to contract malware and viruses.

  • OS-Specific security concerns- With the BYOD policy prevailing in your workplace, anticipating and configuring a network for the myriad of operating systems can be a lot harder than you would expect.

Establishing a BYOD policy for an organization

If a company wishes to make the most out of employee devices in the workplace, a BYOD policy is a must-have. A well-pondered upon and thought over policy balances the company’s need for security with the recognition that employees may already have preferred ways of using their devices. Creating a BYOD policy can come easy as long as you have the right tricks up your sleeves. Check out these 5 steps for creating a BYOD policy.

1. Establishing and enforcing uniform security for all devices is the key to a successful BYOD policy- As an employer, you have to make sure that a BYOD security policy applies to every device present.

2. Identify the acceptable devices in the workplace- Clearly identify acceptable devices in the workplace if you wish to prevent employees from looking at a BYOD policy as a free-for-all opportunity.

3. A clear guide to acceptable uses of the device at work is essential- It is vital for you as an employer to define acceptable uses of employee devices in the workplace.

4. Clarify ownership of company apps and data- This would help the employees to maintain a separation of personal and company data by clarifying who owns what data on an employee’s device.

5. Strategize a plan to handle data on employee devices when they leave the company- Introduce the concept of “exit wipe” or other methodology to ensure that no company data stays on an employee’s phone.

Now that we fully understand the concept of establishing a BYOD policy let us also plunge into the tips for securing data and reducing risks.

Tips for securing data and reducing risks

  • Start by educating the employees

Continued security training is mandatory for the employees, and it should include how to update applications and software. Making them agree to comply with company policies is the right way.

  • Use password-protected access controls-

This might seem like an obvious step, but setting a password/access pin should be the first vital step in BYOD security. This step, being too obvious, is often ignored by many users. The passwords that you set should be unique and hard to decipher. They should never be generic.

  • Encryption is the key

The VPN cloud network uses secure servers for online security, and privacy tends to keep data safe. Hackers are unable to access sensitive information via employee devices if the personal employee IP addresses are replaced with generic IP addresses.

  • Control connectivity

Even though network connectivity is a crucial element of staying connected, you ought to control the connectivity of devices. Disable mobile hotspot, data, Bluetooth, or any other form of connection that might open a device to outside threats.

  • Never store financial data on personal devices

As an employee, the best you can do is prohibit employees from storing financial data of the company and their sensitive information on a particular device. You can also create clear guidelines for where and when confidential information may be accessed using a personal device.

  • Use a VPN

If you wish to hide traffic from eavesdroppers or individuals snooping on a public network, a VPN is the best choice. Companies that have remote workers should strongly consider investing in a VPN and using it to connect to company resources via a personal device and a network that isn’t in the office.

Summing it up

BYOD is not only a preferred option but now an unavoidable one too. Your employees, one day or the other, will want to bring their own devices and work on them, and you won’t be able to do anything to stop them. With a reliable, secure BYOD policy, you can empower users to work more productively, prevent costly data breaches and malicious attacks from damaging your organization, and even increase employee satisfaction.