Raise your hand if you’re an IT pro and stressed about the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. I see those hands! Employees love the freedom to use their own smartphones, laptops, and tablets for work. But personal gadgets accessing company apps and data? That’s a shortcut to security nightmares, right?
Here’s the scoop – with the right preparation, BYOD doesn’t have to blow up your security. You can make policies that will let people use their gear without compromising corporate safety. Let’s break down the strategies that any IT department can use to mitigate risks while riding the BYOD wave.
Set Security Expectations with a BYOD Policy
First up, you need an official BYOD policy that outlines appropriate usage and security obligations on personal devices. Your employees get the perks of BYOD, but must agree to conditions that protect company assets.
Make sure your policy covers:
- Approved BYOD devices – Which devices are approved for your BYOD? Is it only Apple iOS or Android? Or can employees bring their smartphone, tablet, or laptop?
- Usage guidelines – Spell out when and how devices can access company resources. For example, mandate BYOD can only occur during office hours over the company WiFi or VPN. Prohibit BYOD over public networks.
- Minimum security requirements – Passcodes, encryption, anti-malware, remote wipe capabilities, etc. For jailbroken phones, deny access outright.
- Company monitoring rights – Reserved permission to remotely wipe BYOD devices that are lost or stolen. Maintain ability to monitor and revoke all the access privileges.
- User consent – Have employees formally agree to the BYOD policy and your security terms. No acknowledgement, no BYOD.
- Violation protocols – Document what happens if rules are violated – from temporary suspensions to terminations.
Detailing these expectations up front sets the stage for secure BYOD adoption. Stay up-to-date on your policy to make sure you are protected.
Centralize Control with Mobile Device Management
For BYOD management, you’ll need a mobile device management (MDM) platform. You can configure and monitor personal devices accessing corporate resources with these tools. We’re talking:
- Remote configuration – Push security policies and settings remotely.
- Monitoring – Dashboard view of device compliance and vulnerabilities.
- Access controls – Block jailbroken or rooted devices.
- Data encryption – Protect corporate data via encryption.
- Data wipes – Selectively wipe company data from BYOD devices.
- Data containers – Limit and separate access between work data and personal info.
- App management – Restrict or require certain apps with sensitive data access.
Lock Down the Overall Network
Of course, securing the devices themselves is only part of the equation. You also need robust defenses at the network and system levels:
- Firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems (IDS/IPS), web filtering to control external access.
- A granular access control system so that BYOD devices access only the stuff they need. Limit access by device, user, IP address, etc.
- A multi-factor authentication system for all of the corporate apps and data.
- Tools like data loss prevention (DLP) that block unauthorized extracting or sharing of confidential information.
- Continuously monitoring traffic for irregularities that could indicate a breach.
With rigorous underlying security, compromised BYOD devices pose less of an existential threat to corporate networks.
Educate Employees About Data Security
The risks of BYOD are not always understood by employees. Make sure to educate all staff on core mobile safety:
- Using strong passwords and encryption devices. Never disabling security settings that the company requires.
- Don’t forget to install any anti-malware apps you might need.
- Avoiding unsecured WiFi, especially when accessing internal systems. Use a VPN on public networks.
- Identifying phishing attempts and other social engineering attacks. Not downloading unapproved and suspicious apps.
- Physically securing devices when traveling and working remotely. Never leaving a device unattended in a public place.
- Report lost or stolen devices right away so all data can be remotely wiped.
- Appropriately segmenting work and personal usage. Never store company data on unmanaged apps.
- When in doubt, clearing any questionable security behavior with IT.
Have Clear Consequences for Disregarding Policies
The most buttoned up policies and technology controls can unravel quickly without enforcement of repercussions. Employees who disregard BYOD rules must face action:
- Non-compliance protocols – Actions like temporary access revocation or retraining requirements.
- Liability clauses – Employees may be responsible for part or all cost if their lost or hacked device causes damages.
- Severance policies – Particularly egregious disregard of security policies may warrant termination.
- BYOD participation revocation – For employees who repeatedly fail to comply with security requirements.
The Bottom Line on BYOD Security
I get that BYOD feels like the Wild West from a security standpoint. But with careful planning and defense-in-depth tactics, you can prevent it from becoming an attack vector.
Start by setting expectations through a well-crafted BYOD policy. Maintain control on personal devices with MDM and network access limits. Make security second nature through employee education. And consistently enforce policies through repercussions when needed.
It’s a bit of work up front. But done right, your organization can embrace BYOD’s benefits without compromising corporate safeguards – a win-win for users and IT!