As businesses continue to move at the speed of light in every possible direction, employees must be able to keep up with the expectations presented to them. As such, in an attempt to be more lean in their operational efficiencies, many companies are opting to allow employees (from new hires to executives) more flexibility with the types of devices they use in the office. This innovative approach to business takes its form as a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace policy.
Although this allows companies the freedom to pivot freely without the need to carry unnecessary overhead expenses at all times, it does come with the tradeoff of leaving holes in your network security. If you don’t take the necessary steps to deter a data breach at any possible point of intrusion, it could spell disaster for your organization in the future. Let’s look closer at what BYOD is all about and how you can limit vulnerabilities and prevent a breach from occurring in the future.
What’s the Deal with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to Work Policies?
According to the Global Market Insights statistics, the BYOD market is to reach almost $367 billion by 2022, up from just $30 billion in 2014. As companies begin to ramp up their focus on digital transformation, employees of all levels have begun to clamor a bring your own device to work policy that allows them to get everything done at a moment’s notice. Rather than having to be stuck in the office for hours on end or only using a single device (usually a desktop computer in a cubicle) to get work done, BYOD allows employees to use the hardware and devices they need to get things done.
Also Read : Pros & cons of bring your own device (byod)
All in all, BYOD offers several tangible benefits for companies, including (but not limited to) the creation of a more mobile workforce and decreasing company expenditures. In other words, companies can attribute less of their available budget on hardware replacements and more budget on building the products and/or services that will net them a healthy profit.
How BYOD is Transforming Workplaces
For roughly the past decade, BYOD has been a beacon of hope for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) looking to grow and scale rapidly. According to a Frost & Sullivan study, the use of personal devices at work saves employees 58 minutes per day, thereby translating to a 34% increase in productivity. This statistic is more appealing to SMBs looking to get a leg up against their conglomerate competition as work ethic alone will likely not be enough to take a larger slice of the industry market share.
On the other hand, a Cisco report also found that if a company allows you to bring your own device to work under their roof, it can save an average of $350 per year for each employee using their own devices. This statistic might be more in-line with what conglomerates with 10,000+ employees are after as this could potentially allow them to increase their margins by millions of dollars a year.
How BYOD Can Lower Investment Risk Factors
This also has the ability to decrease the risk factor for companies looking to acquire or perform a merge with them. Although having less overhead does decrease a company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) measurement which would also lead to a lower valuation, the company is seen as much less of a risk to investors looking to merge or acquire the company. By operating more ‘lean’ with a BYOD policy in place, companies can showcase to possible investors that they are able to pivot quickly to garner more market share quicker than companies who are devoting more of their resources towards overhead costs.
BYOD Threat Awareness
Even though BYOD is incredibly versatile, it is also one of the most complicated headaches for IT departments because it exposes the entire organization to huge security risks. Excellent business model aside, BYOD has a substantial effect on the traditional IT structure due to employees unknowingly interfering with corporate data. The minimal control that the organization has over corporate data implies that the data that employees are manipulating is more exposed to attacks than through a traditional business model.
BYOD presents serious threats to a company’s data due to lost and stolen devices or employees using unsecured Wi-Fi networks, or worse. A study by Syntonic found that 87% of companies allow employees to use personal devices to access business apps while a study from Tech Pro Research shows that 59% of companies allow employees to use their own devices at work. Although this is allowing these organizations to grow faster than previously, it also is putting them in the position to be exploited by hackers much easier as well.
Onboarding Employees for BYOD
To deter this onslaught of attacks, companies must create more comprehensive cybersecurity training and culture in their workplace from onboarding through exit where Human Resources (HR) is involved in all stages of BYOD policy creation and implementation. Just think if an employee were to download unsecure applications and connect to public Wi-Fi spots without sufficient protection measures. Something as simple as this would result in serious security loopholes that may not be able to be traced and remediated by a company’s IT team.
Onboarding new employees into a BYOD business model should come with the understanding that they need to always be tech-savvy with their own devices by installing the latest, updated security systems on their mobile devices. Taking the time to explain to new hires the benefits that something as simple as updating antivirus has on the ability to decrease the chances of attackers infringing on the stored data is incredibly important.
Ending your onboarding sequence by giving your new hires the tools to reach out to technical support to ensure security measures are aptly implemented if/when they have any questions or concerns is always best practice. Providing comprehensive cybersecurity training for all new hires is an essential part of the onboarding process in a BYOD environment since it only takes one uneducated or careless employee to leave the whole company’s network at risk.
Handling Remote Workers in a BYOD Environment
One of the biggest risks associated with BYOD is that remote workers often use public Wi-Fi networks while working, thus leaving them vulnerable to man-in-the-middle and phishing scams which can result in your company’s cybersecurity being greatly compromised. To back this claim up, a recent report by Spiceworks suggested that 61% of employees access corporate data over public Wi-Fi which makes it more difficult to maintain adequate levels of network security.
Many companies retain the ability to remotely wipe the data on the device to help protect company data should the device end up in the wrong hands, but that shouldn’t be your only solution. Instead, you should use that solution as a last resort, but use a trusted VPN that encrypts their data as the main solution. However, remotely wiping a remote worker’s data on their device may result in the loss of their personal data, thus is why it is so important that they are aware of the risks associated with adhering to the BYOD policy and how to ensure that this doesn’t escalate in the future.
The Struggle of Keeping BYOD Data Private
Although BYOD does come with documented risks, 69% of IT managers polled by Cisco said that they were still seeking to use BYOD because it saves their employees time. But, saving time is all for nothing if the organization doesn’t take the time to understand how to keep their corporate data private while it’s not tethered directly to their servers. This is why visibility is the key to understanding how devices are being used.
Knowing what types of sites are being accessed, what apps are being used and on which connection from where, enables IT teams to assess the risk of each device. This allows IT teams to be exponentially more effective in enforcing a BYOD policy that keeps the personal and corporate data on the device secure, without being unnecessarily strict or intrusive.
Proactively Managing BYOD Security Issues
Now that you have defined how you will operate and manage BYOD in the workplace, you must also assess how you will go about proactively preventing data breaches past the onboarding phase. Once you open the doors for bring your own device at work, it’s nearly impossible to trust all of the devices on your network. Clearly outlining the security protocol for the use of personal devices that includes strong password policies, the use of two-step authentication processes, and mobile management software will give you more oversight, but you should still be wary of trusting the devices that you don’t know.
Take the time to secure each application to the point that it only provides the exact interface it needs to deliver its service; then ramp up your monitoring efforts. If you find that a device is doing something out of scope based on its profile, quickly take the necessary proactive measures that deter a breach from ensuing.
In 2016, researchers discovered that 56% of respondents felt that BYOD was one of the biggest threats to endpoint security for their organization. Even though these respondents felt that BYOD could potentially lead to a data breach, they still are open to including it in their network security infrastructure to save time and money.
Protecting your BYOD environment via disk encryption, effective passwords or even biometrics can help reduce security incidents even on employee owned mobile devices. Having sound internal regulation policies implemented will also allow employees to be fully aware of the data security risks and how they must work together to manage security risks.
The Future of BYOD From a Security Standpoint
A 2018 report noted that 64% of employees used their personal devices to conduct work transactions. This shows how BYOD has blurred the lines between the personal and professional lives of employees which can be a drain on an employee’s work life balance as well as putting corporate assets at risk as well. Even though more than 80% of employees believe that smartphones will become a natural part of the digital workplace in the future according to IBM, that doesn’t mean that the future will be free of threats.
As we continue to progress into the future of BYOD in the workplace, we will undoubtedly find that companies that don’t adapt their security models to BYOD will face numerous potential risks. Risks such as data and intellectual property loss, competitive disadvantage, and productivity loss due to an inability to rapidly adopt new productivity-enhancing applications are all very much a reality for companies large and small.
For a company to be successful in the future functioning under a BYOD business model, it must continuously evaluate its security risks as new technologies are deployed in their network infrastructure. For BYOD to be scalable, companies must model the risk on a per application and per device type basis. Although this process can be time-intensive and challenging to get right, it is essential for ensuring the longevity of the organization.
By understanding BYOD’s risk potential, businesses of all sizes can steer clear of incurring specific vulnerabilities and mitigate the prospect of data loss in the future. This allows companies to shed outdated IT-centric application procurement mindsets and continue forward with a streamlined approach towards operations that will keep corporate data from falling into the wrong hands.
Although most organizations don’t have the expertise or bandwidth in-house to pull off a solid BYOD policy, there are other solutions for outsourcing cybersecurity measures for BYOD in the workplace. By leveraging the expert understanding of reliable, flexible and scalable cybersecurity resources such as RSI Security for your BYOD security strategies, you can get back to business faster with a plan that will fit your company’s goals for the future.