Credits: Mati Mango
Bring your own device (BYOD) policies have become the norm as businesses adopt remote and hybrid work arrangements. However, by allowing employees to use personal devices for work, there are inherent BYOD security risks many business owners should be aware of.
Tech company Zippia reveals that more than half (51%) of employers have adopted network security measures for mobile devices, followed by 37.9% with no policies in place, and 11.1% of employers unsure about the matter.
In this article, we explore the nature of bring-your-own-device to work security issues and what can be done to strengthen cybersecurity.
Top BYOD Risks for Your Business
The blurring of personal and professional workspaces due to the pandemic has highlighted a new class of BYOD risks and issues. Sure, adopting a BYOD policy has its benefits, such as:
- Improved employee experience
- Cost savings for the provision of devices
- Increased flexibility, accessibility, and productivity
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Still, there are gaps and problems in BYOD that every business owner or cybersecurity professional should be aware of. When conducting a risk assessment, consider the following common BOYD security risk gaps to address and what you can do to minimize them:
1. The Use of Unsecure Networks
The use of personal devices for work is often accompanied by the use of unsecured networks.
In fact, OpenVPN reported that 54% of businesses believe that remote employees pose a greater security risk than onsite employees. Additionally, a recent study reveals that mobile devices are now behind 60% of data breach incidents and other forms of digital fraud—and unsecured connections remain a leading factor.
The temptation for an accessible and convenient internet connection is often the trade-off against the security risks of BYOD arrangements.
However, it doesn’t mean that you have to completely close off those access points.
A basic approach to changing remote connections is using a company VPN. Similarly, you can provide them with a private Wi-Fi network, although this usually equates to additional costs.
More importantly, IT teams can deploy solutions like Cisco Identity Services or the Prisma Cloud. These platforms allow companies to assign a unique profile for each end-user account to suit the employee’s unique needs.
2. Different Types of Malware
Unlike traditional office equipment, mobile devices have a wider variety. That means there are more forms of malware creating a new class of security problems with BYOD setups.
Mobile devices now include:
- Wearable electronics
Malware can come from a wide variety of sources, from ads that appear in mobile apps to attachments from unverified sources. Similarly, the extent of the damage from these malicious pieces of code also varies widely, from slowing down your device to compromising sensitive data.
Proactively combatting the security risk that comes from malware requires a combination of employee awareness and technology. Employees should be trained to separate personal and professional device activities.
More importantly, the use of rooted or jailbroken devices should be strongly discouraged, if not prohibited. Customization, rooting, or jailbreaking bypasses the inherent security features of a device, making it more susceptible to different types of software vulnerabilities.
3. Poor Planning and Network Security Training
The BYOD policy, documented and rolled out to the company, serves as the common ground for the employees and the technology in place. It is important to train employees and administrators on what to expect from the policy and the end-users.
One of the risks of BOYD is that it offers a large amount of control to its end-users.
Traditional networks follow one of the following policies for user access and device usage:
- Company Owned, Business Only (COBO): The company provides the devices that employees use, which are strictly designated for business purposes only. Employees are usually not allowed to choose the device they’ll use.
- Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE): The company provides the device, but allows employees to use it for personal purposes. Employees also don’t have a choice regarding the device, but they can use certain personal apps with approval from the IT department.
- Choose Your Own Device (CYOD): Employees can choose what device(s) they want from a list of company-approved brands and models.
This is why a strict and comprehensive BYOD policy is important: companies need to implement a set of standards that employees should follow. It should also address procedures for onboarding, removal, and the treatment of confidential or sensitive information.
Some companies, at the very least, define acceptable operating system versions. Also, some BYOD policies expressly restrict or block access from unauthorized devices. These expectations help reduce or mitigate security vulnerabilities by taking proactive steps.
For employees, taking the BYOD policy statement to the heart is a good start. It helps develop a culture of security and responsibility, especially if your role in the company deals with networked assets and confidential information.
5. Social Engineering Attacks
Despite having the right protocols in place and a cooperative workforce behind you, many active efforts remain to exploit human weaknesses. Social engineering attacks constitute a set of BYOD risks realized through human interactions.
Below are some of the most common types of social engineering attacks:
- Phishing: This entails pretending to be another party, such as a vendor or software distributor, to push people into clicking a link or downloading a file—with 83% of organizations experiencing this kind of attack in 2021.
- Tailgating or Piggybacking: This happens when a valid user logs into the company system, and an unauthorized user tries the same credentials to gain access. It usually occurs when the valid user is preoccupied or simply forgets to log out.
- Scareware: Common among websites and chain messages, it raises false alarms and threats to trick users into doing an action. One example is a shocking message telling users that their device is infected with a virus.
This is why BYOD companies strictly prohibit opening emails from unknown sources. Others conduct training on identifying suspicious emails and enhancing email and spam protection. Some provide an employee checklist when logging on from a new device or location.
Avoid BOYD Risks and Issues with Steady Networks
A secure BOYD environment helps ensure your business remains protected.
To do so, however, requires expertise that most companies don’t have access to.
For a reliable partner who’ll serve as your first line of defense in this increasingly challenging landscape, consider Steady Networks. With more than a decade of experience providing best-in-class cybersecurity solutions, we will strengthen your data protection, ramp up network security, and improve your employee’s security training for a safer tomorrow.
Stay protected and be prepared for the unexpected.
Contact Steady Network to ramp up your BOYD security policies and security standing today.