BYOD Security: Tips for developing a Secure BYOD Policy

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“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) introduces significant changes to the organization and its IT processes, so a secure BYOD policy is recommended. On the other side, a weak policy might jeopardize your entire BYOD initiative.

Employees are accustomed to being linked to systems via technology, even while on the road, and so feel it natural to allow BYOD to become ingrained in their business culture.

Below are several tips and insights that will help you determine the strength and efficiency of your business’ “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” policy.

The need for a Secure BYOD Policy

Many companies allow employee-owned devices in the office, and many employees utilize their own devices. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 bolstered the work-from-home culture and required employees to access work apps from personal devices regardless of the company’s BYOD policy.

This demonstrates that workers will use personal mobile devices for professional purposes whether or not the organization knows about it or has policies in place. For organizations to overlook the usage of personal devices is to disregard a huge security concern.

RELATED: 5 Cybersecurity Tips for Remote Workers

Employers can embrace BYOD by implementing policies and security measures to make it secure. In most cases, businesses that accept BYOD recognize the increased employee productivity and satisfaction while taking appropriate security measures to reduce risks.

Ensuring Stakeholder Buy-In

Creating policies and guidelines to support BYOD adoption can sometimes cause friction. Businesses seeking to implement or augment BYOD policy should begin by gaining stakeholder and employee support.

Stakeholders in the policy-making process represent a wide range of departments and interests. A BYOD workgroup should include executives, HR, Finance, IT Operations, and Security.

Also, employee engagement is vital to successful BYOD legislation. Employees won’t participate if rules are too tight or don’t support essential equipment.

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Defining a Secure “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) Policy

Consumers may not always choose to employ native security features such as the ability to lock device displays or demand passwords. Consequently, defining a Bring-Your-Own-Device security policy is vital in ensuring corporate security when workers bring their personal devices to work.

When clear corporate guidelines exist, employees are compelled to adopt these simple features, and even modest steps may help improve security.

There are several critical components of a secure BYOD policy:

  • Acceptable use – Which apps and assets are permissible to be accessed through personal devices by employees?
  • Security standards – Determine minimum security necessary for devices, such as SSL certificates for device authentication. Would the company supply a mobile device security program that workers must install before accessing corporate data, or may employees pick their own security solutions as long as they match specific criteria
  • Device modification permissions – Granted by the company, such as remote wiping for lost or stolen devices or when staff leave employment
  • Clearly defined IT support – To support employees connecting to the company network and help for resolving conflicts between personal and corporate applications
  • Apps and data ownership – Which apps are allowed or not, and reimbursement (e.g., will the employer refund ordinary usage fees, pay for selected apps or a portion of monthly bills?)

Finally, a BYOD policy should include risks, liabilities, and disclaimers. This covers employer liability for personal data lost when a device is erased for security reasons and employee liability for sensitive corporate data lost due to carelessness or abuse.

5 Crucial Tips for developing a Secure BYOD Policy

There is a wealth of technologies available to enhance the security of employee-owned devices. A robust policy and widespread acceptance are critical for assuring effective (and secure) BYOD usage in a business.

While each business is unique, many share several (relatively) similar features to most policies:

1. Password & Privacy Policy

Privacy is critical, and your BYOD policy should cover how you secure data while maintaining the privacy of your employees.

Password protection is a non-negotiable requirement for sensitive data belonging to the business or its customers. Certain businesses prefer to inform employees that they may anticipate no privacy while using personal devices for professional reasons.

Consider the following when determining if your company’s BYOD policy protects you from these calamities waiting to happen:

  • Stipulate and enforce the use of strong passwords. Some organizations, for example, require frequent password changes every 30 or 90 days.
  • Additionally, the policy should emphasize best practices for using VPNs (personal or company-provided) to access corporate data and applications.
  • Additionally, you could consider implementing two-factor authentication for any applications or programmes accessible via employee-owned devices.
  • Establishing guidelines to safeguard devices against risks posed by public WiFi connections (such as airports, cafes, etc.).
  • Describe the network monitoring team’s methods, rights, and authorizations regarding their right to know how the device is utilized in the workplace.
  • Further, your BYOD policy should assist users in determining if they are permitted to do activities such as document uploads and downloads on their home network.

2. Data Management

It takes one user to use a new app containing sensitive data to trigger a breach. If someone is utilizing an unauthorized data transmission application and the application is compromised, there may be substantial legal repercussions. Encrypted, password-protected data should be delivered exclusively for company-mandated purposes.

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Employees who seek to take advantage of the BYOD policy’s provisions must also accept that the company’s information technology will need to exert control (to a certain extent) to keep things secure and safe. Several critical points include the following:

  • Describe the actions an employee should take to report the theft or loss of a device
  • Establish guidelines for devices that users must follow, such as retaining files and logging into accounts only when necessary
  • Develop rules for IT to describe the minimal amount of encryption permitted.

The intricacy of deleting data from an employee’s phone, tablet, or computer is reason enough for some organizations to supply employees with all gadgets.

It’s not easy to navigate various email accounts and delete specific items from applications used for personal and business purposes.

  • Establish a system for IT to remotely delete data (all emails, contact lists, files, and folders) from such devices through the Internet
  • Defining the process for obtaining employee consent to erase the entire contents of a lost device (including personal pictures, paid apps, personal files, etc.)

3. Maintenance/Updates Procedures

Patches and upgrades add new functionality and protect against known vulnerabilities. Maintaining current versions of devices and programmes is a critical component of overall digital security and should be incorporated into any secure BYOD policy.

When workers utilize their own devices for work, the end user-IT connection is put under increased strain initially. The BYOD policy must send the appropriate message to all groups. Several critical topics to consider and include in the BYOD policy are as follows:

  • The amount of help provided by IT for connecting a BYOD programme device to the company’s network for the first time.
  • IT can provide the degree of assistance for routine device troubleshooting and failure.
  • The procedure for determining if a device needs extra security software (antiviruses, anti-malware, etc.).
  • Addresses concerns when a user’s device application is deemed unsafe, insecure or risky.
  • Is the business prepared to provide replacement corporate laptops and devices until internal IT can handle hardware issues?
  • The policy must include provisions for the proper mobile device management (MDM) and endpoint security solutions (ESS) technologies.

A policy that allows the IT staff to handle complex end-user enquiries and concerns on these topics is critical for a successful BYOD implementation.

Leaving corporate data on a personal device when an employee retires, changes jobs, or is sacked is not good.

Even worse is the absence of a standardized set of procedures for when this occurs. Businesses must verify that all data is deleted from the device. Upon termination, they must confirm that all rights are revoked from corporate apps.

4. Approved Applications

A safe and secure BYOD programme blocks downloads of copyrighted content, monitors app requests for access to the device’s picture gallery, storage, and contacts list, and re-evaluates the appropriateness of allowed applications following upgrades.

Of course, the policy can’t specify which applications are whitelisted or banned. Instead, it will define acceptable and undesirable app qualities and make decisions based on them.

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Numerous applications are utilized in the workplace. Without a definitive list of acceptable programmes, your staff may develop their own.

Include dedicated secure chat, email, customer relationship management, and other apps, and prohibit the usage of unapproved programmes.

Also, consider the process of downloading an application from a mobile operating system’s application store.

These applications have the potential to expose device data to malicious entities on the web. And, with applications, it’s not uncommon for consumers to lose track of what they have installed on their smartphones.

5. Accountability Provisions

A policy that includes a list of recommendations but does not have explicit disciplinary action for individuals who violate those principles will be difficult to enforce. Your policy should outline the procedures for tracking, measuring, and implementing responsibility.

Each team member should understand how gadgets should be used and the implications of not safeguarding corporate data.

Next Steps

You need a BYOD security strategy regardless of whether your employees use smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Additionally, you must be aware of the significant security concerns associated with BYOD.

Further guidance on creating a secure BYOD policy can be found here.

BYOD entails a lot of perks and concerns. For a secure BYOD policy to be successful, you must balance employee autonomy and data security.

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