Your devices are a cybersecurity risk and a great one at that. Whether you were aware of this or not, it is a big theme that is talked about in abundance all across the tech world. BYOD, or Bring Your Device policy, is also something that is talked about a lot in these circles. Largely, BYOD generally refers to devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets that you use for work. Your devices come with an extensive set of privacy and cybersecurity risks that you must understand. This is particularly true for companies that offer BYOD policy, as we mentioned above. This is why we must cover what BYOD policy is, and how to secure your devices whether you are bringing your device in for work or otherwise.
In this day and age, it is almost impossible to get by without a smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Five billion of us are online all over the world with access to some sort of internet connection (whether that be slow or high-speed internet). Most infrastructures around the world now allow for mobile data usage, which means that, even if the internet in your country is unstable, you will have access to faster internet via mobile data. Worst case scenario, you will be able to connect to something like Elon Musk’s Starlink in the near future.
For these reasons, millions of people across the world are now working remotely. This, combined with the fact that employees can use their own devices with work software and work access/privileges, spells trouble in terms of cybersecurity and privacy.
BYOD first became popular in the late 2000s, with over 60 percent of all people using their own devices at the workplace. Of course, this coincided with personal devices being powerful enough to multi-task and hold large amounts of data. Until this point, companies would usually have to purchase devices and temporarily loan these out to employees for work purposes. Perhaps the biggest reason BYOD is so popular today is simply because companies want to reduce costs by not giving out proprietary work devices to employees. On top of that, this removes any responsibility from the company as well.
What Exactly is BYOD Policy?
As good as BYOD is in terms of giving employees the flexibility to not have to use separate work devices for their work, it can be fraught with risks. According to Forcepoint: “Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to the trend of employees using personal devices to connect to their organizational networks and access work-related systems and potentially sensitive or confidential data. Personal devices could include smartphones, personal computers, tablets, or USB drives.”
As more and more organizations and institutions support the WFA (Work From Anywhere) or WFH (Work From Home) business model, workplaces are allowing the use of employees’ personal devices. Even though BYOD can improve efficiency and workplace morale, and even reduce costs for the organization or institution employing the workers, the security and privacy issues there are manifold such as;
● Potential data breaches and data leakage due to lost or stolen devices
● Potential cyber-attacks that leverage vulnerable employee devices
● Lack of security tools and updates on BYOD devices
● Misconfigured data privacy issues and compliance issues
● Lack of privacy for the employee
● Litigation requests and other issues
Clearly, there are a lot of vulnerable entry points as well as human error scenarios that can take place when BYOD policy is used by an organization or institution. Of course, it is important to remember that our devices are inherently insecure if they are not set up correctly. Now imagine an unsecured device that holds the key to accessing sensitive parts of your company. This could result in a dangerous domino effect that will affect everyone in the communication chain. A big problem, indeed. Not only do you risk your company, but everything else on your device.
How to Keep Your BYOD Devices Secure
There are a few simple steps to keep in mind when aiming to sanitize your BYOD experience. If you are a company, look at some of the following BYOD management technologies and tools;
Organizations and institutions should also look at securing their internal networks with some sort of managed security solution, which may also include BYOD protection. Apart from that, one should not forget that rogue and disgruntled employees might be hiding within the company structure, so executives should keep that in mind as well.
There are several ways you, as the employee, can secure your device as well, particularly if it is a work device. This means installing premium antimalware and using a Virtual Private Network (premium also) or VPN to protect your transmissions. Perhaps even more important than that is practicing stringent password security practices and avoiding visiting shady websites/downloading shady material online. You should also always look at having all of your data backed up, as well as keeping your devices up-to-date with the latest operating system version.
Today, there are several different types of personal device business models offered by organizations and institutions globally. These are models such as; choose your own device (CYOD), corporately-owned, personally-enabled (COPE), and others. Finally, it is important to understand that any type of BYOD device policy requires responsibility from both the employer and the employee.
This means that each side needs to secure their end of the data and transmission from potential risks and human error in order to fully benefit from these business models. It wouldn’t hurt to also train employees and company staff in privacy, cybersecurity, and device security particularly as this will alleviate a lot of symptoms from the start. Remember to use all of the cybersecurity tools at your disposal, because thankfully we live in a time where premium security software is available for an insignificant cost. The cost of something happening, however, is far, far greater.