Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to the concept of employees bringing their own computing devices to their workplace instead of or in addition to company-supplied devices. The utilization of BYOD is growing as people increasingly own their own high-end mobile computing devices and become more attached to a specific type of mobile operating system or device. BYOD can occur under the radar or become part of a particular corporate policy in which an organization lends its support to personal mobile devices or even provides a stipend to employees enabling them to purchase a device that could include laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs.
It was only in 2010 that BYOD became much more mainstream even though the term was initially introduced in 2009. With personal devices flooding the workplace, CIOs started to feel the pressure and it was during this time that Android was beginning to pick up steam and the first iPad was launched in the market. Thus, an increasing number of tablets and smartphones were now used in workplaces and IT was continuing to allow BYOD without offering much support. Many businesses even started blocking personal devices from their mail servers and network. iOS 4 was launched in 2010, providing the first API's to handle mobile devices. IT and organizations now started to understand that they couldn't ignore BYOD forever.
In 2011, BYOD programs and official support were introduced into the workplace at a much faster rate. Company executives were beginning to feel comfortable typing on touchscreen keyboards, and the enterprise mobility market was also rapidly shifting.
Even though IT's challenge was still focused on securing the device, they experienced the first real concerns around data leakage and security in 2012. Users were now greatly concerned about their privacy. Businesses were focused on clearly communicating BYOD policies to concerned users while continuing to work towards understanding the security and privacy implications. There was thus an increase in the demand for Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.
BYOD thus brought a change in the way organizations provided access to their computer networks. Traditionally, the IT department of a school or business would build closed networks that could be accessed only by the computers they owned. With BYOD, students and employees will be able to link their own smartphones, tablets, and computers to more open networks.
The BYOD movement was triggered by the exploding popularity of tablets and smartphones together with lower costs of laptop computers. Individuals who earlier depended on organizations to issue them hardware for work can now own devices that are capable enough to do the same work.
The security risks with BYOD are listed below:
Malware: When employees start bringing in their own devices to their workplaces, nothing much is known about the device. These devices could get be at risk from malware and other cybersecurity risks that didn't originate within the company as the employees also use these devices for their personal needs. The risk of BYOD users bringing their malware with them is thus a major concern for IT security managers.
Data exfiltration: Besides the risk of introducing malware into a corporate environment, BYOD can also bring about data loss or leakage. With unmanaged BYOD devices, a user that gets unfettered access to a corporate network will be able to take whatever they have access to and bring it with them outside the company. That particular device could even be stolen or lost.
Hardware: With corporate-provisioned devices, the company gets direct control over the specific phone hardware choice, and it has frequently been vetted to meet corporate compliance requirements. The phones and other devices provided by companies to their employees are typically provisioned with default configurations capable of meeting corporate policies.
With the BYOD concept evolving into an unstoppable force across the business landscape, managing what can be a host of mobile devices is now a vital consideration for all enterprises.
With a growing fleet of mobile devices, businesses now need a platform enabling high levels of oversight and solid data protection. A MDM system has become essential for tracking mobile device usage and it also has the potential to wipe devices if they get lost or stolen.
Organizations can adopt a number of measures that help mitigate BYOD risks. Some of these measures include:
Key benefits to operating a BYOD strategy in an organization are discussed below:
Allowing employees to utilize BYOD in the workplace could result in a number of security risks associated with:
All these risks pose a threat to the company's sensitive and critical data when proper precautions are not adopted. Hence, prior to implementing a BYOD policy at your business, you will have to come up with a security plan outlining regulations employees will have to follow. Educating employees about the significance of these regulations is extremely necessary in order to prevent data from getting compromised.
It is possible for business data to become vulnerable to hackers despite the fact that the best security practices, measures, and policies are in place. This is the point where cyber liability insurance comes into play.
Insurers must develop services and products customized to meet the particular needs of data privacy pertaining to companies and their employees. To achieve this, the insurance industry will have to stay ahead of the curve in order to guarantee that products are up-to-date with BYOD trends and new areas of exposure, such as who is responsible for resulting losses and stolen data, even if devices are compromised in places outside the workplace.
Insurers have a thorough understanding of the concerns and risks associated with BYOD and can thus come up with specific pain points and provide the necessary protection required by commercial customers. It is also essential for insurers and companies to understand the unique risks related to BYOD in order to provide correct coverage if in case vital information gets compromised.
Securing a BYOD program can take several different forms, involving varied types of technologies and policies.
Network Access Control (NAC): Controlling access to corporate networks and resources is considered to be the most basic foundational level. In the modern threat landscape, allowing any device to connect to a corporate network, without any validation or control is, in fact, a recipe for disaster.
Mobile Device Management (MDM): Enrolling hardware devices in an MDM platform allows organizations to track and have a degree of management over devices accessing a network.
Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM): An EMM solution focuses on managing devices and accessing applications and data in a comprehensive manner.
If you have an outdated policy, or if you are in the process of developing a corporate Bring Your Own Device policy, or yet to develop a policy, then consider the tips given below in order to address IT service, application use, security, and several other components:
The speedy proliferation of user- and corporate-owned devices in the workplace points out that organizations need to strengthen their support infrastructure now. MDM is considered to be the main software solution ideal for securing and managing your company's applications and data that are used on the mobile endpoint devices that go in and out of your organization. MDM platforms offer a main interface allowing you to interact with the data present on your company's devices and also your employee's personal devices, which are usually enrolled in the platform when they are hired.
BYOD policies have been a money saver for companies that need its employees to be mobile. In the entire process of adopting employee-owned devices, understanding BYOD and its impact on an existing organization and infrastructure is a critical milestone as it will permit a business to make the best use of cloud computers, superphones, tablets, and smartphones.
Policy review: Currently prevailing policies may need tweaking, however, there should be a clear path toward applying existing policies to the mobile app and device world as well.
Evaluation of MDM: MDM software is capable of solving a number of your security issues, but will need time to be evaluated properly.
Set realistic expectations: Using a mobile device for personal purposes is extremely different from using a mobile device within an organization. Employees using BYOD will have to accept compromise and also accept the fact that their organization's security is extremely important.
Platform support: The mobile platform environment is greatly fragmented. You will have to remember that specific devices outside Apple's iPhone/iPad may support a variety of features for which your organization will have to maintain a list of supported devices.
Application policy: An application policy can be based on blacklisting or whitelisting software along with the usage of containers in order to run third-party software. You will have to be very clear as to which software is permitted, and which is not. Setting an application policy can actually consume a huge amount of resources, but it stands at the center of your security policy. Only apps that provide reporting, auditing, and centralized management should be permitted.