BYOD Risks and How to Avoid Them

 

The increasing trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in today’s corporate landscape is gaining popularity, providing significant benefits in terms of flexibility and efficiency. Yet, this trend brings its own set of challenges.

The ability to access company information on personal devices is unquestionably convenient, but it also presents various security risks associated with BYOD.

“BYOD can be amazing or terrifying. You need to weigh the risk/benefit.” says  Michael Kourkoulakos, CEO of NENS. “It offers flexibility and efficiency on one side, but on the other, it introduces real security risks we can’t ignore.

According to research by Cybersecurity Insiders, the foremost concern regarding BYOD is the potential for data loss.

In this blog, we aim to delve into these issues, offering vital information to help you confidently and securely manage the BYOD environment in your business.

 

Before We Dive In…What Exactly is BYOD?

BYOD allows employees to use their personal devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops, for work-related tasks. This shift towards BYOD is not just about cutting costs, as often perceived, but is driven by several other factors.

Here are some insights from a study that found:

Boosting Mobility (63%): One of the biggest advantages of BYOD is enhanced mobility. It allows employees to work efficiently from anywhere, offering a level of flexibility that traditional setups can’t match.

Enhancing Employee Satisfaction (56%): Employees tend to be more satisfied when they can use their own devices. They’re already comfortable and familiar with their personal gadgets, which can lead to a more relaxed and efficient work environment.

Increasing Productivity (55%): Familiarity with personal devices can significantly boost productivity. Employees often find it easier and quicker to complete tasks on devices they use regularly.

The preference for personal devices is so strong that 89% of employees would consider a lower salary if it meant they could choose their work device.

BYOD offers some pretty significant perks. It helps save on expenses, ramps up employee performance, and positively impacts employee mobility and morale. That said, there’s a catch: keeping everything secure can be a challenge.

 

7 Biggest BYOD Security Risks

 

7 Biggest BYOD Security Risks

Source: Comparitech

 

1. Data Security Concerns

When employees access company data on their personal devices, it might unintentionally create opportunities for cyber threats. Devices that aren’t adequately secured can fall prey to various risks, such as:

Malware Risks: Harmful software aimed at causing damage or unauthorized access can enter through unverified app downloads or accessing unsafe websites.

Phishing Threats: Deceptive emails or links can lure users into divulging sensitive information. The personal usage of BYOD devices might lead to a relaxed attitude towards email and web security, increasing vulnerability to such scams.

2. Handling Device Loss or Theft

It’s a given that mobile devices, BYOD included, are generally less secure physically compared to those that stay within an office environment. Alarmingly, 41% of data breaches happen due to devices being lost or stolen. When phones or laptops with crucial data go missing, they can become a treasure trove for cybercriminals. Here are the main reasons for concern:

Easy Access to Data: If a device isn’t protected with strong passwords or biometric security, it’s all too easy for someone who finds it to access its contents.

Risk of Remote Exploitation: Lost devices are a potential gateway for cybercriminals to get their hands on sensitive company information, leading to significant financial and reputational damage.

 

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3. Challenges With Inconsistent Software Updates

One of the key issues with BYOD is the use of devices with outdated operating systems or applications. These older systems can have vulnerabilities ripe for exploitation:

Security Gaps: When updates lag, devices don’t receive important security patches, leaving known vulnerabilities open. Hackers are quick to exploit these gaps, often before employees or their companies can patch them.

Compatibility Issues: Outdated apps or operating systems can lead to conflicts with company software, affecting employee productivity and putting extra pressure on support staff.

4. Device Incompatibility Complications

The variety of devices and software in BYOD scenarios can overextend corporate IT resources, creating additional risks:

Increased IT Workload: Supporting a wide array of devices can overburden IT teams, diverting their attention from other critical tasks.

5. Risks of Public Wi-Fi Usage

With over 60% of mobile workers regularly using public Wi-Fi, they face several security risks. These networks are often unprotected, making them prime targets for data breaches. Often, the vulnerability of public Wi-Fi stems from the absence of robust security tools typically found in controlled corporate environments. Many public networks lack industry-standard encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. This makes them susceptible to breaches, as employees connecting to these networks may inadvertently expose company data.

Risk of Data Eavesdropping: Unsecured networks allow cybercriminals to easily monitor data transmission, capturing sensitive company information.

Man-in-the-Middle Attacks: Attackers can intercept and potentially alter the communication between two unknowing parties, posing a serious security threat.

 

💡 This Solves So Many Problems With BYOD

Enabling multi-factor authentication can secure your data and applications from 99.9% of account attacks, says Microsoft.

 

6. Blending Personal and Business Data

The habit of employees storing both personal and business data on their devices presents a unique challenge in BYOD security risks. Ensuring sensitive company information remains protected in such situations is complex. Having a DLP policy and enforcement in place can greatly reduce the risk. The main concerns are:

Data Handling Complications: Monitoring and applying data backup, retention, or deletion policies becomes significantly more difficult when personal and business data are stored together on a single device.

Risk of Data Exposure: If a personal aspect of an employee’s BYOD device, such as their social media, is hacked, it could lead to unauthorized access to both their personal and company data.

7. Risks of Malicious Apps

Some apps have no place on your employees’ devices, especially when they pose a security risk.

Take, for instance, the Pokemon Go craze. Amidst its popularity, a slew of fake and malicious apps emerged. Deceptive apps with names like “Pokémon Go Ultimate,” “Guide & Cheats for Pokémon GO,” and “Install Pokémongo” surfaced to capitalize on the trend.

Device Takeover Risks: Some malicious apps can gain control over a user’s mobile device, potentially leading to surveillance, unexpected charges, or the loss of personal or work-related information.

Importance of Safe Downloads: Employees should be trained on the best practices for app downloads, emphasizing the need to stick to official app stores. Many risky apps are downloaded from websites pretending to be genuine or alternative versions of popular applications.

You know about Bring Your Own Device to Work security issues. Here are more cybersecurity resources:

 

Here’s How You Can Mitigate the Security Risks of BYOD

For any business looking to adopt or refine a BYOD strategy, it’s crucial to balance the flexibility and productivity benefits with robust security measures. Here are a few detailed actions you can take to manage BYOD effectively in your business:

1. Establish a Clear BYOD Policy: Develop a comprehensive BYOD policy that outlines acceptable use, security requirements, and the responsibilities of both the employer and employees. This policy should be easily accessible and regularly updated.

2. Implement Strong Authentication Measures: Require strong, unique passwords for device access and consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for an added layer of security.

3. Regularly Update Security Software: Ensure that all devices connected to the company network have the latest security software, including antivirus and anti-malware programs, and are regularly updated.

4. Secure Wi-Fi Connections: Encourage employees to use secure, encrypted Wi-Fi connections, particularly when accessing sensitive company data. Provide guidelines on the risks of public Wi-Fi and best practices for its use.

5. Data Encryption: Mandate the encryption of sensitive data on BYOD devices. This helps protect information even if a device is lost or stolen.

6. Educate Employees on Cybersecurity: Conduct regular training sessions on cybersecurity best practices, including how to recognize phishing attempts, the importance of regular software updates, and safe browsing habits.

7. Use Mobile Device Management (MDM) Software: Implement MDM solutions to remotely manage and secure endpoints that access corporate data. This software can also facilitate remote wiping of data in case of device theft or loss, as well as enforcing policies that would not allow them to access company data if important variables are not met.

8. Regularly Monitor and Audit: Continuously monitor the network for unusual activity and regularly audit BYOD devices for compliance with company policies. This proactive approach helps identify and mitigate risks early.

9. Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Strategies: Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is crucial in a BYOD setting.DLP tools classify and protect critical data, control its transfer, and monitor usage on personal devices. These measures prevent unauthorized access and sharing of company data, ensuring compliance and maintaining data integrity. Regular employee training on DLP practices is also crucial for effective implementation.

 

Reduce BYOD Risks and Issues With NENS

As BYOD becomes increasingly prevalent in the business world, grasping its associated risks and implementing effective countermeasures is key.

Look to NENS, your dependable partner in managed IT services, to guide you through this process. We are adept at creating bespoke BYOD strategies and establishing strong security frameworks to protect your interests.

Avoid gambling with BYOD security. Get in touch with us today and take advantage of our more than 30 years of experience.

 

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