Implementing and Securing BYOD Policy - a Brief Guide

Haseeb Awan
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December 1, 2022
Modified On
April 5, 2023

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Modified On
April 5, 2023

BYOD is both a significant opportunity and a significant risk for enterprises. To reap the significant benefits of BYOD while avoiding the significant risks, you must follow a suitable approach to identifying BYOD risks and developing an effective BYOD policy.

The proliferation of smartphones in the consumer market has led to the proliferation of company-issued devices in the workplace. Increasing the potential for employee security risks is no longer the only thing that matters when choosing a security policy for workers who bring their own devices to the workplace. Consumers have become increasingly accustomed to working on their own internet-connected devices. Because of the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, the possibility of introducing security risks has increased, especially for small businesses. Small businesses should create a BYOD security policy to prevent this.

Devices at Work Vs Devices for Work

Even though employees are free to use their devices for personal use, the use of personal devices to transact business can still lead to serious security issues. Whether employees use their smartphones to access company applications or send work-related emails, the most significant security risks are associated with personal devices.

In one case, employees use their devices at the job; in the other, they use their devices to perform business. Devices brought to the workplace but did not have accessibility to the organization network are not usually problematic; however, they require strict, well-defined BYOD policies and enforcement.

The Challenges of BYOD Security

Enterprises and small firms alike have trouble with BYOD security. The fact that employees' devices are not company-owned makes controlling them an uphill battle. BYOD security policies have become more popular and acceptable as security risks have become increasingly visible and familiar. As BYOD has grown in popularity, BYOD security policies have also grown in acceptance by employers and employees.

More organizations allow employees to bring their devices to work than a few years ago. In November 2014, Tech Pro Research surveyed organizations on whether they allowed employees to bring their devices to work and found that 74% of them did. As of 2016, 45% of U.S. employees requires by their employers to use their smartphones for business purposes, and 35% of organizations allow employees to use their smartphones to access mobile business applications.

BYOD, or using personal devices for work, is associated with lower hardware and software expenses. Still, IT professionals also need to maintain personal devices and protect the network and data from vulnerabilities. Tech Pro Research's spring survey shows that security was the most popular reason for avoiding BYOD.

The Need for BYOD Security

As per one recent study, the BYOD market will rise to more than 350 Billion USD by 2022 (up from USD 94 Billion in 2014), and significant global BYOD market growth will be between 2020 and 2026. In addition, employee demand for smartphones and the desire to send emails when they are away from the office is driving the increased demand.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which occurred in 2020, caused significant disruption worldwide by speeding up the work-from-home culture, and as a result, many employees had to use their devices to work. Although 95% of companies allow employees to use their devices in the workplace, two-thirds of employees use them at work, regardless of the company's BYOD policy. As a result, some employees use their devices to access organization networks and apps even if those activities are forbidden.

These results show that employees are more likely to use their mobile devices for business purposes whether or not the company has a policy or prior knowledge about using personal devices. In other words, companies that ignore the possible use of personal devices ignore a severe security risk. To prohibit or embrace BYOD, companies must decide whether to embrace the trend or implement security measures to mitigate the risks. Companies that embrace BYOD can increase productivity and employee satisfaction by providing employees with better work-life balance and security safeguards to mitigate the risks associated with it.

How to Define a BYOD Security Policy?

BYOD security policies are crucial in keeping company security as employees bring their devices to work. There are several key components of a BYOD policy, including:

  • What types of applications and resources may employees access from their own devices?
  • Devices must have security controls at least as tight as the minimum required controls.
  • Hardware components provided by the manufacturer, such as SSL certificates for device authentication
  • Changing the device, such as wiping it for lost or stolen condition, belongs to the company.

Your BYOD policy must define support for apps installed on personal devices, accessible from the IT department, and which apps may clash with corporate applications. In addition, the company must provide support for connecting to the corporate network, installing apps on personal devices, and resolving clashes.

Your BYOD policy should identify the apps and data that are yours and those that are the companies. Also, the applications that are allowed or prohibited and the method of reimbursement (e.g., will the company pay employees a fixed fee for certain apps, cover a portion of their monthly expenses, or provide them with an app allowance?). It should also address security needs for BYOD devices (e.g., will your IT department allow employees to use their mobile device protection applications, or will they have to use an IT-approved security solution?).

In addition to outlining your BYOD policy, you should also consider employee exits when establishing one. What happens to company data stored on employees' devices when they quit? Written policies should thoroughly describe how an employee leaves the company, including IT technicians wiping the employee's device. You should also ensure that your BYOD policy clearly states any required procedures for handling employee departures. Finally, you should disclose risks, liabilities, and disclaimers in a written BYOD policy. You may wipe company data for security reasons if an employee's device needs it and for employee negligence or misuse.

Example Elements of a BYOD Policy

There is a lot of technology to better secure employee-owned devices. However, a firm policy and widespread adoption are vital to ensuring proper (and secure) BYOD usage in an organization. Even though each company is different, certain elements are relatively universal.

Password Provisions

Organizations should always protect sensitive information with a password on computers and mobile devices. Most companies require passwords that are difficult to crack. For example, users should consider changing their passwords every 30 or 90 days. Additionally, companies may require 2-factor authentication of applications and programs accessed from employees' devices.

Privacy Provisions

Company data is on a privately owned device, but it is company data. Privacy is a big issue, and your BYOD policy must address how you protect data while ensuring employees' privacy. Some firms ask employees to keep their devices free of any work-related data.

Data Transfer Provisions

Just one person can use an app with sensitive data for a breach to occur. Even if someone uses an unapproved app to transfer data, there could be severe legal ramifications if this app breaches. The company should encrypt password-protected data and only transfer it on company-mandated applications.

Proper Maintenance/Updates

Keeping devices and applications up-to-date is essential to overall digital security and must be a component of any company or personal device use policy. There are, however, patches and updates that offer not only new functionality but also bolster the code from known risks.

Common Sense Provisions

People can be harmful despite the technology being indifferent. A brief work selfie or a "vlog" can happen even when prohibited. By not having policies for devices, misuse is sure to happen more often. It is also a good idea to follow these rules:

  • Avoid taking personal calls while working.
  • Avoid using devices while driving.
  • Avoid making videos.
  • Approved Applications

Considering BYOD Security Solutions

Providing ongoing employee education on BYOD success is critical to ensure that employees learn the importance of acceptable use and basic data security hygiene after their systems and protocols are in place. Far off this, the correct security solutions can minimize your BYOD risk and help your policy run smoothly. A BYOD security solution should address several or all of the following elements. The ideal solution incorporates multiple or all of these security measures and facilitates a comprehensive mobile security strategy. The following are brief descriptions of various security measures that a company may include in a comprehensive BYOD security program.

Encryption for Information in Transit and at Rest

Organizations need to ensure that data is protected. Both when it is stored or being sent or received via a mobile device or 'Bring your own device '. Encryption ensures that sensitive data safeguards even when a stolen device or traffic intercepts over an unsecure network. It is because BYOD utilization takes data uncontrollably of many other enterprise security measures. The contents of confidential files are protected even if they are intercepted or stolen. Strong passwords are an option, but encryption is better. An InfoSec Institute article notes, "To ensure protection, organizations must adopt encryption throughout the data cycle (in transit and at rest) to stop unauthorized access and keep the encryption in case of a security breach."

Application Installation Control

IT can control apps on employees' devices by using specific controls available with certain devices and operating systems. For example, You can configure Apple iOS devices to deny access to the App Store, and Android Enterprise can manage a Google Play portal that includes only approved apps (among many other features).

Most companies wouldn't deem it practical to severely restrict employees' ability to download or install apps on their own devices. These restrictions are akin to those employed to protect parental discretion, so naturally, employees are likely to feel as if they are infringing on their freedoms. Most companies do not restrict personal devices as they please when they are not on the job, working, or connected to a secured company network, making other options more practical for BYOD security. Some BYOD security strategies, such as Android Enterprise, distinguish between work and personal apps and data, enabling companies to control work devices without restricting personal use. We will discuss containerization in more detail below.

Mobile Device Management

Mobile device management (MDM) solutions provide companies with total control yet give employees complete autonomy, making it possible to secure, deploy, and integrate devices into a network and monitor and manage them in a central location. MDM is still finding its footing, and you must address a few difficulties. Because MDM offers more sophisticated features than current devices allow, some businesses use them to reduce employee satisfaction and push employees to adopt their mobile devices.

Containerization

Containers use conjunction with MDM solutions. Containers are an approach to segment a device's applications and content into their secure bubbles, protected by their unique passwords and governed by their policies. Employees can use their devices without risking the company's network security when containers use. Personal apps and other features are not accessible when a user logs into the containerized area. Containers are a desirable technique that allows employees to use their devices as they prefer while eliminating the possibility of employees using apps that need to be more secure to work.

Blacklisting

Blacklisting is blocking or prohibiting specific applications that pose a security danger to an organization. In addition to restricting employees' access to applications that hinder productivity, blacklisting can also restrict employees' access to games and social networking apps. Companies also frequently blacklist file-sharing applications since they are worried that sensitive information may be shared with third parties, either accidentally or on purpose, by workers.

Blacklisting is not usually employed to manage BYOD apps because it requires controlling employee access to personal applications during work hours and off, which is against many companies' security standards. Because of this, some employees play Pokémon GO when not at work, which is a problem.

Whitelisting

Whitelisting is the alternative to blacklisting. Rather than blocking access to a specified list of applications, whitelisting allows access only to a preapproved list. There are too many applications and websites to block effectively because of this reason. When an employee downloads an app and uses it to send data, it is sometimes too late to determine that it is unsafe. Whitelisting avoids this issue by blocking all apps except those preapproved as safe by IT. Unfortunately, this can block employees from accessing apps they would like to use when not at work.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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