The rise of bring your own device (BYOD) policies has created a security headache. Organizations must ensure that personal devices like smartphones, computers, tablets, and USB drives accessing digital networks are secure.
BYOD security issues are an unavoidable topic thanks to the rise of global cybercrime that has affected so many organizations. Supply chain ransomware attacks, data breaches, phishing scams, and new strains of meta and polymorphic malware have heightened the risk of all individuals and organizations using digital communication to handle everyday business.
Why is BYOD popular?
BYOD is beneficial for employees as it offers them the freedom to work on their device of choice. This flexibility means they can work from anywhere, and not be restricted to the office or need to take equipment home with them. Some business also see BYOD as a chance to cut costs, and are more than happy for people to use personal phones and laptops instead of providing and maintaining them.
Of course, during the pandemic, widespread remote working brought BYOD into the spotlight for many businesses. Even IT leaders who were perhaps reluctant to embrace BYOD suddenly needed to equip a remote workforce. With global demand for IT equipment and semiconductor shortages, BYOD was a handy and often necessary alternative to providing corporate equipment.
BYOD has been a fixture of working life for many employees for some time, but it’s not without risk. Organizations must put the processes and policy frameworks in place to mitigate the security risks posed by this new trend.
Why BYOD increases risk
BYOD increases risk by creating more digital endpoints requesting access to corporate networks and data. All of these endpoints are potential points of risk for external hacking, phishing, and accidental data loss. In the past, office IT equipment was protected by traditional perimeter security, under the eye of security teams. Now that perimeter is scattered far and wide.
However, even equipment loaned from an office can still be controlled more closely by IT teams. The added danger of BYOD is that employee’s personal devices and networks might not have the same standard of security as corporate devices. With corporate devices, security teams can push security updates, enforce the use of DLP and anti-phishing tools, and block shadow IT (unapproved apps and software).
For example, a company policy might dictate the use of a specific file-sharing process and platform. An example of shadow IT in this context would be an employee’s use of an unapproved file-sharing platform on a personal device, putting sensitive data at risk of a leak. A company owned device might have controls in place to prevent this from happening.
It’s harder (or more often impossible) to police people’s BYOD devices. They might neglect to make updates, download risky apps, visit unsafe websites, and go without security software. All of this leaves them far more vulnerable to phishing attacks, downloading malware, and accidental data loss.
How to develop strong BYOD security policy
Instead of allowing your teams to expose your organization to preventable risks, create a clear foundation of expectations and opportunities to be gained by developing a more robust and responsive cybersecurity posture.
Your BYOD policy framework should mandate the following cybersecurity best practices for all stakeholders using personal devices to handle mission-critical functions. A BYOD security policy should encompass clear guidelines that employees should agree to when using BYOD:
- The approved devices employees may use to conduct normal work activities
- Your data security and governance policy frameworks
- Levels of internal IT support allocated for different personal devices
- A clearly defined policy for how stakeholders should secure their personal devices to mitigate the effects of cyber threat incidents
- Multi-factor authentication protocols
- Data encryption policy
- Data loss prevention policy
- Regular employee training to ensure staff understands cybersecurity risks and implements best practices to reduce risks
How technology can reduce BYOD risk
Accidents happen and people make mistakes – that’s going to happen on whatever device people are using. On top of that, cybercriminals are coming up with increasingly sophisticated phishing methods, many of which are targeted at mobile device users. To even up the odds, intelligent security is needed to support and protect your human layer.
We create powerful security solutions that let users enjoy the productivity benefits of BYOD while preventing data loss and keeping them safe from phishing. Egress Prevent uses artificial intelligence to catch and stop scenarios where a user may accidentally send critical information to an unintended recipient, preventing data loss.
Meanwhile, Egress Defend uses machine learning and natural language processing to detect even the most sophisticated phishing attacks in real time. Book a no-strings-attached demo today for more information on how we can help you maintain a secure BYOD program.