Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a relatively new policy used by some organizations that allow their employees to use personal devices for business use. While this practice originally began with smartphones, the BYOD movement has since extended to laptops and tablets.
So in what ways would a BYOD policy put your network at risk? Without proper guidelines, letting employees use one device for personal and professional use can cause problems if the device gets lost or stolen. Data loss or leakage may also occur through an unprotected device. Exposure to hacking and malware threats may increase as well.
6 Threats You May Encounter With A BYOD Policy
The BYOD practice is seen by some employers as a way to encourage employee productivity. It’s also a great cost-cutting measure for many organizations who couldn’t afford to issue a new device for their employees or upgrade devices regularly.
However, BYOD risks became apparent once companies realized this opened up more entry points into their systems. Employees might use an unsafe network to send critical files, download buggy apps, or fail to download a critical security update on their device.
Some threats to consider when implementing a BYOD policy include:
Opportunities for data theft and hacking
Employees who connect their device to open WiFi spots in public places like coffee shops or airports can be vulnerable to hacking. An unsecured WiFi network can be a malicious hotspot in disguise, giving cybercriminals and hackers access into company systems. They would be able to see your web activity, usernames, and passwords easily since many people don’t encrypt the information on their personal devices.
When employees use their personal devices, they may access sites, install apps, or download files that a company would normally restrict on a standard-issue device. As employees might not be very careful about separating valuable company data from the personal stuff, they may accidentally allow malware to infiltrate the device.
For example, buggy or malicious apps can accidentally or intentionally leak data and leave you vulnerable. Even well-curated app stores could miss a malicious app and expose BYOD to unknown threats. Just the act of clicking on emails or opening links from suspicious websites could lead to data loss.
Loss or theft of device
As each person brings their device in and out of the office each day, the company would have no control over the device and where it goes. Without proper security protocols, this can go from an inconvenience to a full-blown disaster if the device ends up with unscrupulous people.
Even with a strong password or thumbprint lock, a skilled hacker would be able to crack open the device and have unauthorized access to it. A lost or stolen device is a risk until it is recovered or wiped remotely.
Issues with employees
Without adequate training, your employees can compromise your network security since they might not fully understand how to secure their device. Many security breaches have been caused by employee error and it’s not impossible when their device is also used for personal reasons. What if they shop at a compromised website or lend their device to a friend who isn’t as aware of your security protocols?
Untrustworthy employees or former employees can also cause problems through a BYOD policy. How can you be sure a former employee would no longer have access to your network using their device? BYOD could also make it easier for disgruntled employees to steal or damage company data with the device fully under their control.
IT managed without the knowledge of a company’s IT department is called the “shadow IT”. Shadow IT includes tech purchases made by people who don’t report to the company CIO. Allowing employees to choose their device makes it difficult to track any vulnerabilities in consumer-grade products, such as poor security systems or infected removable storage.
The lack of uniformity can also cause confusion. Operating issues may crop up thanks to the broad range of devices brought in. Without directions or procedures, there is a chance your operations become disrupted because no one is on the same page.
Risk of legal issues
Sensitive or proprietary information in an employee’s personal phone or device that falls into the wrong hands can do serious harm. Any data leak or security breach can seriously damage your reputation with your customers or business partners to the point of litigation. Failure to keep your data secure may also violate local, state, or federal cybersecurity regulations.
How To Deal With BYOD Risks In Your Workplace
Defining a BYOD security policy is essential if you want to maintain company security while employees bring devices in and out of the workplace. To form your policies, you will need to identify the specifics and standards for usage, such as:
- Which devices can be used and under which conditions?
- Who are the employees eligible for BYOD?
- What information can or cannot be stored in a personal device?
- Would the company have rights to alter the device, such as remote wiping a lost or stolen gadget?
- What happens to the device when an employee leaves the company?
A few ways you can deal with BOYD risks are:
- Creating password provisions: Some organizations require regular password changes every 30 – 90 days or two-factor authentication to keep devices safe.
- Educate and train users on cybersecurity: Aside from informing employees of their responsibilities, you should also keep them abreast of current security threats, how to mitigate risks, how to find lost devices, and other good practices.
- Form a security incident plan: Instead of threatening or punishing users for IT issues, promote a culture of cooperation and trust. Let employees bring their devices to IT if they become compromised and identify solutions to problems like malware, stolen devices, or ransomware extortion attempts ahead of time.
- Ask employees to encrypt everything: Encryption protects data from attackers whether the information is in transit or at rest. Encrypting messages makes it unreadable to unauthorized eyes, which adds a layer to your defenses.
Secure Your Business With Abacus Managed IT Services
If security risks are too high, BYOD might not be the right IT solution for you. It’s best to consult with IT experts before you make any decisions that could affect your organization’s network. Abacus Managed IT Services has long assisted businesses in figuring out how to keep their systems secure. Contact us today for inquiries.