BYOD is an essential tool for many companies, but it comes with unique data security challenges. IT Professionals need to balance the usability of personal devices with security and compliance standards. To minimize unauthorized access and data breaches, IT staff should implement zero-trust solutions. It requires rigorous verification for each device and user. Other vital considerations include app segregation and monitoring file integrity.
An employee’s device should be separated from their work-related apps and data. However, many employees prefer to use a single device for their professional and personal tasks, which makes it challenging to prevent them from accessing company information. It means that access control is an essential consideration for any BYOD policy. In addition to password protection, it is a good idea to require strong passwords and set a maximum amount of time for the device to remain unattended before locking it. Also, requiring or strongly encouraging regular backups is a great way to protect against potential loss of data should the device be lost or stolen. Another concern is malware infection.
If an employee uses their device for work and then visits a risky website or connects to a public Wi-Fi, the devices could become infected with malware, which can then infiltrate the rest of your network. Additionally, if an employee’s device is lost or stolen, third parties may have access to the unsecured data and applications. It is a hazardous situation for salespeople or others who are customer-facing and often use their mobile phone numbers to communicate with customers. If these individuals leave the company and take their phones with them, they can quickly become competitors and gain easy access to client information. A firm BYOD policy should address this issue by establishing who ‘owns’ the phone number and how it can be used.
Data Loss Prevention
A common concern for businesses considering a BYOD policy is how to prevent data loss. The best practice for this is to require passwords on all devices used for company work and to teach employees to use anti-malware software and never jailbreak their devices (which can lead to malware and viruses). Additionally, it’s essential to train employees to keep their devices locked and stay supervised. Ideally, you’ll also want to include instructions for keeping their devices up-to-date with the latest operating systems and requiring the screen lock feature (passcode or fingerprint scan). Suppose there is sensitive information on employee’s devices.
In that case, it is essential to lay out an exit strategy that will allow the company to remove access from their device when their employment ends quickly. It could include encrypting all data stored on the device, requiring that all personal data be backed up regularly, or implementing a complete device wipe when an employee leaves.
In addition to providing clear guidelines for BYOD users, an effective BYOD policy will also detail the support available to help them with any technical issues they may encounter. An example of this is including links to FAQs, as well as how to contact a team member for assistance with a particular issue.
If employees are connecting to a company network from their devices, they may be transmitting viruses and malware. It’s important to put extra security management solutions in place to ensure employee-owned devices don’t infect company systems. These solutions can include remote security monitoring, application restriction, and malware detection. While these tools can increase IT costs, they’re essential for protecting BYOD data. Device encryption is also crucial to a successful BYOD policy. It should be mandatory on all devices that connect to the company network, including personal smartphones and tablets. It’s important to communicate this requirement to employees, ensuring they understand their information will be secure.
Another aspect of a successful device management plan is to prevent the jailbreaking of employee-owned devices and the downloading of unsanctioned applications. These activities can introduce security risks to the company network, so a good device management strategy will prohibit these activities and enforce compliance with the company’s BYOD policy.
It’s also a good idea to include a device-wipe process in the BYOD policy, which will allow for the deletion of sensitive data from devices that connect to the company network. It should be explained to employees during the enrollment process, how it will be implemented, and the consequences of not following it. It will help avoid any surprises and ensure the integrity of company data should an employee lose or damage their device.
Mobile Device Management
A BYOD policy must provide a way to secure employee devices. It can be done by requiring passwords, imposing minimum standards for the strength of those passwords, and setting rules for when the device is allowed to access the network. A BYOD policy should also address using public networks — such as home Wi-Fi or those found in coffee shops, airports, and stores — to gain network access. It should prohibit the transmission of sensitive data via those networks and provide for the use of virtual private networks on a BYOD basis.
Finally, a BYOD policy should set rules for backing up company data on personal devices and define how those backups are maintained. It will help reduce the risk that a lost or stolen employee-owned device will be used to expose the business to financial, reputational, and regulatory risks.
BYOD policies can be costly to implement, especially if you need to purchase or license software tools that allow for the protection of company devices. As with any newly implemented policy, instituting a BYOD policy will generate an initial surge of support requests and calls that must be addressed promptly. The best way to address these cries for help is to develop an up-front training program that explains what the company is looking for from employees when accessing its network and outlines how each employee can keep their devices safe.