Employees usually bring personal devices to work, such as their smartphones. They may use their phones strictly for personal communication, or they need their devices to conduct work. Whether employees are scrolling their social media channels during their lunch break or sending work-related emails from their personal devices, they represent a security risk that businesses can’t afford to overlook.

What is a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy?

Businesses that allow employees to work remotely or startups with limited budgets often have bring your own device (BYOD) policies. BYOD policies eliminate the cost of providing work computers, as employees most likely already own laptops and smartphones. Employees typically take better care of their personal devices, meaning less money spent on repairs. Employees are also intimately familiar with their personal devices and can utilize all its features without a learning period.

BYOD Security Risks

BYOD policies can dramatically slash upfront operating costs, but they aren’t without risks. Personal devices create cybersecurity challenges once they connect to the company’s network. Company networks often boast robust cybersecurity fences that are difficult to breach. However, employee personal devices don’t often have those same defenses and create vulnerabilities that cybercriminals are happy to exploit. Some of the biggest BYOD risks include:

  • Data loss or theft. Employees may have sensitive information on their personal devices that they bring to work. If they lose their device or have a device stolen, they can potentially lose all the data and work stored on it.
  • Data breach. Lost or stolen devices are treasure troves for cybercriminals. Once hacked, they can steal the information, publish it, or ransom it. Breaches are often expensive to recover from, and they can do long-lasting damage to the company’s reputation.
  • Network intrusion. Hackers don’t limit themselves to hacking a single device. They can break into company networks through less-secure employee devices and wreak havoc once inside. A hacked device is a significant blow. A hacked network is often catastrophic.

BYOD Best Practices

Companies can take several steps to improve BYOD security. These include:

  • Antivirus software. Antivirus software is the first line of defense for protecting employee devices. Companies can purchase the license or require the employee to install the antivirus software that meets IT’s specifications.
  • Mobile device management (MDM) software. MDM software allows IT departments to prevent unauthorized access, restrict usage to approved apps and features, and track the devices’ locations. They can also wipe the device in the event of a loss or theft.
  • Unified endpoint management (UEM) software. UEM software is an evolved, more sophisticated approach to MDM. UEM platforms can manage all endpoints, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, wearables, and printers. UEM can do everything MDM can do in addition to managing applications, content, identity and access, licenses, and more.
  • Multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA provides several layers of protection against breaches. Strong passwords are a good start, but a single password doesn’t pose much of a challenge to hackers. Adding additional steps can verify the individual’s identity, such as an access card, a PIN, or biometrics (i.e., facial recognition, fingerprint, voice confirmation, etc.).

Cyberattacks can cripple businesses financially and badly damage their reputation. Companies that allow employees to use personal devices while at work or for work need to implement several layers of security to protect their employees, customers, and business interests. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to learn more about improving BYOD security.