BYOD, or bring your own device, has become the new normal in the corporate workplace. But with this convenience comes impending security concerns. Although BYOD costs companies less, mobile devices are often used without proper security measures in place. This makes it difficult for employers to determine how much access employees should receive to company networks. The more access an employee has to company networks, the more opportunities for not only their personal information becoming vulnerable, but company data as well. With BYOD becoming more prevalent in the workplace, it is vital companies and employees understand the perks and security concerns that are associated with BYOD and take necessary steps to ensure personal devices and company information is protected.
BYOD can offer some really great perks: 1) employers spend less on technology and providing devices to employees thus saving the company money and 2) you get to use your own device(s) with which you are already accustomed to. Your company may already allow BYOD in your office, but do you know the associated security risks? They are complicated. Three looming concerns of BYOD that companies and employees should be addressing are accessibility to company data, lost or stolen devices, and overall maintenance. Let’s delve into why these concerns are the most pressing.
- Accessibility. The overarching question of BYOD is who gets access to company data on their personal devices, when and where? For example, if you are at a meeting, outside of the office and you are on a limited-access BYOD policy with your employer, you would only be able to access work email and contact but nothing stored on the company servers. If your client asks to see a specific document hosted on your company server during the meeting, you won’t be able to access it because it is sensitive and lives on the private severs. This is where BYOD backfires for the employee.
- Lost or stolen devices. A personal device that contains confidential company information poses a huge security threat if it is lost or stolen, and begs the question: who is responsible for retrieving the device and/or data? What is the proper response to this sort of breach? It is your personal device, with both personal and company data, so should it be locked, tracked and retrieved, or completely wiped immediately? There is no clear or correct answer, which is why companies need a clear BYOD policy and culture of security that fits both parties’ needs.
- Maintenance and malware. Frequency of device maintenance, software updates and uniformed app downloads can open the door to a slew of security vulnerabilities. Organizations have a hard-enough time implementing their own software across the corporate network, let alone ensuring all employees are adhering to the required software updates from device operating systems and applications. With the breadth of different phones and tablets being used around the globe, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of employees’ security posture on their personal devices.
Without the right security measures in place, there is the possibility of malware being downloaded through sketchy apps or unpatched versions of software, which could be transferred onto corporate servers depending on the employee’s access level. McAfee Labs detected over 16 million mobile malware infestations in the third quarter of 2017 alone, nearly doubling the number one year previously. This uptick in cyberattacks on mobile devices illustrates the importance of comprehensive cybersecurity policies across the board.
So how do you protect yourself when it comes to using your smartphone or tablet for both business and pleasure? Here are a few tips:
- Practice discretion when alternating between personal and business tasks on your mobile device. Separate the two by using different, verified apps for company and personal uses to maintain safety.
- Avoid downloading apps from third-party vendors that could make your device prone to malware, and always check permissions of any apps before downloading, particularly those that ask for to access to your device’s data.
- Regularly update your device to ensure they are equipped with vital patches that protect against flaws and bugs that cybercriminals can exploit.
- Avoid accessing data-sensitive apps on your device over public Wi-Fi. Cybercriminals could use this as an opportunity to take a look at your mobile data.
- Keep your personal and work information secure with comprehensive mobile security, such as McAfee® Mobile Security, that will not only scan your device for viruses and threats but also help you identify apps that are accessing too much of your valuable personal information.
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