Bring your own device (BYOD) programs are growing in popularity among companies hoping to increase productivity while keeping costs under control. These programs allow employees to use their personal smartphone, tablet, or other device at work for both personal and business purposes.
In addition to improving productivity and increasing cost efficiencies, BYOD programs are associated with better levels of employee satisfaction. But companies need to be aware of increased security and privacy vulnerabilities associated with allowing outside devices onto their internal networks, as well as ways to increase the security of a BYOD program.
Risks of BYOD
Outside devices represent a potentially uncontrolled entry point to the network, as well as an avenue for critical data to leave the network and fall into the wrong hands. To protect against those potential vulnerabilities, a company should endeavor to carefully monitor personal devices and put in place policies and procedures to control how those devices access and interact with the network.
Recommendations for Providing a Safe BYOD Program
1. Be thorough in BYOD preparation. Before rolling out a BYOD plan, a business should ensure that key personnel understand the goals of the plan and are involved with formulating policies. A business should study its privacy and security needs and understand any risks that might be associated with collecting and storing personal information from devices on company network assets. Privacy and security requirements should complement each other.
2. Formulate policies around BYOD to stop potential threats before they happen. Training employees about their responsibilities as participants in the program is a crucial step that can prevent inadvertent security lapses. Policies should be communicated clearly to every employee who participates. Employees should be made aware of how their devices and data will be monitored, and how they are allowed to use devices while accessing company networks.
3. Have a containment plan in place for security breaches. Once employees are trained to be the first line of defense against BYOD-related security risks, companies must prepare for the fact that security breaches are inevitable. Consider implementing a containerization policy, which essentially divides personal information from business information on devices. Mobile device management software can help restrict the mingling of information between the personal and business segments, thereby protecting company data.
4. Deploy standard security measures. Encrypting data that flows between personal devices and company networks is a logical security step. In addition, using secure connections to transmit data to and from devices will further protect the network from breaches. Finally, maintaining software and hardware and ensuring all patches and updates are complete will help protect equipment from a variety of security risks.
When breaches inevitably occur, companies should activate a formal process to contain the threat, including detecting, investigating, correcting, and reporting the problem in order to learn how to better handle future incursions.
Putting It All Together
Like any up-and-coming trend, BYOD has both its advantages and its risks. A thorough preparation process and development of thoughtful and flexible policies can address privacy concerns and help identify and prevent security breaches.
Companies that are careful to consider the implications of allowing personal devices onto their networks can capitalize on BYOD advantages while mitigating risks.