Thanks to the power and ubiquity of modern smartphone tech, practically everyone is digitally connected whilst on the go, at home, and in the office.
This has introduced opportunities for businesses and employees to work in more efficient and smarter ways. It could come as a surprise that while more work than ever is being actioned on mobile, the days of the corporate phone are in decline; (in part due to the dying light of Windows devices and the repositioning of the Blackberry) instead, many companies are embracing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
The BYOD idea allows employees to work in the office or remotely using their own devices, rather than company-owned ones, and it’s probably become the best symbol of this ‘personal device era’. It’s convenient for employees to use their own devices, it reduces the burden on IT admin and saves costs for the business.
The top three reasons employees use their own devices are: a) they get more done, b) they combine work and personal activities, and c) their companies don’t provide personal devices [FiercemobileIT]
We’d also suggest that many employees don’t actually ‘like’ a company sanctioned device. Many Beem client partners suggest it can create a divide between employee and employer.
So, BYOD is becoming commonplace in the enterprise, this is a good thing… right?
Employees now have the opportunity to use their own personal devices for work purposes. The thought behind this is that employees are already familiar with their own devices and already have them on hand at all times. In fact –
78 percent of workers believe that using a single mobile device for data access helps them balance their professional and personal lives (from Samsung).
Which we believe is universally a great thing, diminishing barriers and aligning a workday with a positive work ‘life’.
But it is not without its challenges and concerns. Like any iterative development, the risks need to be evaluated. But, in theory, team members will be more productive and happier at work with a BYOD scheme in place.
But are there lingering concerns here?
The areas of highest concern within the enterprise are data leakage and loss, unauthorized access to company data and systems, downloading unsafe apps or content and malware. BYOD has been around for years now, however, there are no universal set of guidelines for employers and employees to work too. But there are some best practices that security experts recommend!
Keeping your company’s private and sensitive data secure is one of your IT department’s biggest responsibilities and BYOD adds a new dimension to this ongoing struggle. As the workforce becomes more reliant on mobile devices, the floodgates of data leakage and threat opportunities open, resulting in an even greater reliance on the IT department to secure mobile devices.
With employees carrying their devices all of the time, this means that these devices also have access to their employer’s network and secure data — all the time. This means that a lost or stolen device is a potential threat. It also means that any malicious program hiding on a personal device now also has access to your company’s network and data. All it takes is one infected device to compromise the integrity of your network and data security.
So, how do we protect our working environment from BYOD threats?
As technology continues to advance and change the way we live and work, building a smart, flexible mobile strategy will allow you to explore innovative ways to empower your workforce and drive greater productivity. We can also complement end-user and administrative security with more extensive network safety: the creation of multiple virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) and virtual switching instance (VSI) environments on the same physical infrastructure allows separate virtual LAN (VLANs) for traffic segregation, i.e. trusted vs untrusted traffic. This way, a BYOD smartphone can be contained on a VRF for user-owned devices, and any malware that may intrude upon it can be kept from infecting the most trusted environment that’s reserved for corporate-issued systems.
Here are steps you can take to ensure that information security won’t be needlessly impaired by the use of employees’ devices:
- Make sure users register their devices with your IT security professionals
- Require employees use PINs, passwords or patterns for data access
- Implement handset’s device-level encryption
- Set company guidelines, user policies and provide training
- Create enterprise-wide BYOD policies
- Work with platform providers with a strong record of BYOD safety, like us at Beem!
Getting clever about BYOD
Making BYOD a success requires organizations to intelligently detect risky activity that enter the corporate environment courtesy of user-owned smartphones and tablets. Networkbehaviourall analysis and machine learning solutions that monitor network activity and adapt to changing threat conditions are a wise investment in supporting BYOD initiatives! With data loss, unauthorised access and malware are just some of the concerns around BYOD, we must make sure all devices are registered, device-level encryption is installed and user policies are established.
Ultimately by spending time with platform providers like Beem and in educating employees on how to protect their devices, ensuring they are configured in line with security policies ensures that even the basic security precautions are adopted.
If you’d like to learn more about how Beem manages BYOD opportunities and challenges, let us know in the comments!