Bring Your Own Device in the Workplace: A Necessary Evil?

BYOD BYOD ? Good or bad for your company?

The rise of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon in the workplace can be a good thing but it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. BYOD can increase workers’ productivity, flexibility and independence but it can also bring about some serious security risks if not managed properly.?

According to a survey conducted by ESET, an IT security company specializing in proactive protection against cyber security threats, about 80% of employed adults use personally-owned electronic device for work while 24% use their smartphones to access and/or store company data. In addition, 41% use their personal laptops, 47% use their personal desktops and 10% use their personal tablets for work-related functions.

The Dangers of BYOD

Adopting BYOD strategies in the workplace may make your company susceptible to the following network security risks:

It increases your exposure to security vulnerabilities and malware. Your employees’ devices are often outside the bounds of the company’s firewall. In addition, most people download games, music and videos, access third party apps and execute files without checking source authenticity. These practices expose their devices to malware infections and make it easy for attackers to access to sensitive company data.

It may make uniform regulation impossible. Using different devices and operating systems may compromise the integrity of your IT ecosystem and make centralized management more difficult. To make matters worse, most mobile devices use outdated firmware which may increase your risk for critical operating system and application vulnerabilities.

It may compromise the security of your customer data. According to the same survey conducted by ESET, customer data is only encrypted on employees’ devices one-third of the time. This creates some serious complications since you to need to protect sensitive company data but you cannot force your employees to install the proper security mechanisms in place.?

Meeting the Challenges Head-On

Taking all of these things into consideration, you should be capable of handling all the challenges before you allowing BYOD practices in the workplace. Here are some suggestions that may help you realize this goal.

  • Prioritize business applications. You should understand how your employees use their networks and teach them to prioritize business applications over everything else.
  • Get the tools you need. Your IT department should be capable of protecting business applications and manage these apps on behalf of multiple users.
  • Use VPN. Force wireless users to use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing corporate resources to discourage attackers from snooping and stealing precious company information.

BYOD strategies can be beneficial to your business, provided you have instituted a comprehensive policy that will address and handle these security challenges.