Improve BYOD Security to Protect Your Company

 

Improve BYOD Security to Protect Your Company

As employees increasingly turn to their personal devices to handle business documents and data, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement continues unabated. The trend is not new, but it has only recently become a headline item.

Multiple factors contribute to BYOD’s increasing importance in Business. These include a steady rise in the number of freelance specialists hired, a greater market saturation of mobile devices, and new mobile functionalities that allow individuals to do more with their phones and tablets than ever before.

For business owners, the tradeoff is simple to understand. Encouraging employees to supply the equipment they use for work offers clear cost benefits but presents security risks. Employees with access to corporate resources from private devices may compromise important data, either accidentally or deliberately.

The major issue at stake is that employees tend to use their personal devices for work-related purposes anyways. Having a BYOD policy simply establishes rules about their use.

But those rules are extremely important. Having them in place gives you a critical modicum of control over the way your employees handle corporate data and may offer you the ability to thwart a catastrophic loss of data if you remain vigilant.

A BYOD Security Policy Helps You Control Data Risks

The primary way that incorporating BYOD security in your overall cybersecurity policy helps keep company data safe is through communication and standardization. 77 percent of employees say they have not been trained on the cybersecurity risks of using their mobile devices at work.

When a member of your sales team sends a customer invoice – with their address and financial information on it – through an unsecured mobile email platform, it isn’t because he or she is trying to sabotage your business or invite cybercriminal behavior. Employees simply don’t know better and will not go out of their way to protect data if there is no policy instructing them to do so.

There is also an important legal dimension to implementing a BYOD security policy. Consider what would happen if a cybercriminal incident occurs and it turns out one of your employees accidentally left the digital door open through an unsecured mobile device. Who is responsible for the damages and costs of the incident? In the absence of a policy, you have no legal recourse but to accept it and move on.

A BYOD security policy lets you set the ground rules for what is and what is not acceptable employee behavior concerning company data. It establishes a precedent for handling company data on personal mobile devices and may give you insight into how employees are using that data.

Suggestions for Developing and Implementing a BYOD Policy

The first step to tightening mobile device security at work is developing a sound BYOD policy. To gather the building blocks you will need to write this policy, consider your top 20 critical security controls and view them from a BYOD perspective.

Determine whether your particular security concerns are easy to implement and maintain within the context of a BYOD security policy. This depends mostly on the unique hierarchical structure and culture of your workplace, as well as the workflow processes you use on a daily basis.

Use these concerns to set limits for acceptable use of employee-owned mobile devices. There will be many instances where you have to draw an arbitrary line, indicating which activities can be performed on mobile devices and which ones cannot be.

Consider the type of data being handled, as well. Ideally, your BYOD security policy should cover device types, communication platforms, data formats, and content in a categorical way. It should also incorporate a monitoring platform that is compatible with mobile devices – if your current monitoring solution is not, you will have to procure one that is.

Make sure your policy includes directions for training employees. A BYOD policy is only good if employees follow it. Distinguish cybersecurity training by giving it importance and explaining the thought processes involved – most employees will follow policy if they understand why they have to.

A final touch to your BYOD security policy should be to include a provision for keeping an inventory of all devices on the company network. You do not want to have stray devices connecting to your local network, so you will have to identify each and every device that uses it to connect to the Internet.

Lastly, before rolling out any new policy, always consult with your in-house counsel or attorney for additional information and legal advice.

Do you need help identifying how a BYOD policy can help your overall network security? Contact us today!