BYOD Security Risks: How it Can Be Reduced for SMBs?

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    Learn about BYOD security risks for SMBs, & discover ways to mitigate them. Take a look at the top features that’ll help you reduce enterprise security risks.

    Encouraging BYOD security or the use of employee devices for work is an integral part of enterprise mobility. When employees use their favorite devices for work, they are likely to be more productive considering they have the tools they prefer over a generic rollout of device inventory across the company. With the upsurge in the usage of smartphones, it is also inevitable that employees will, at some point in time, use their personal devices for work- it could be something as simple as checking an email from their phones or as complex as using their personal laptops for working. Essentially, it is important to understand that BYOD helps work get done.

    BYOD Security Risks
    BYOD Security Risks

    With the implementation of global remote working, thanks to the pandemic, the need for BYOD is heightened. It has also brought in certain limitations to how much an organization can control when it comes to employee distractions, so if that has been the prime hesitation around BYOD adoption, it is safe to say that it is no longer valid.

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    As organizations move towards a more holistic approach to embracing technology for operations- be it within the office premises or otherwise, the rising concerns around the security of corporate data on these BYO devices are obvious and not too far-fetched. However, a BYOD adoption coupled with a BYOD management solution can be a full-fledged security blanket for the corporate data that lies on the employee devices. This all-encompassing solution needs to be a part of your BYOD implementation strategy to shed away any impending BYOD security risks.

    7 Important Components to Mitigate BYOD Security Risks

    1. Selective BYOD security policy application

    Employees will never prefer having their managers or their organization’s IT admins lurking on their personal devices. But with BYOD management solutions, organizations can achieve selective policy application on the employee devices that ensures the employee’s user experience is never compromised and the personal data is off-limits for the IT teams. Yet, the corporate apps and data are protected by the organization’s policies.

    This approach can help ensure BYOD security for SMBs and large corporations alike since the policies will be applied only to the corporate data and app fleet.

    2. Easy enrollment via the user management

    Any change in policy or a new roll-out needs support from the employees. If a set of employees or the entire workforce is already accessing work apps or emails from their phones, having them enroll their devices into a BYOD MDM requires a cultural push. Also, if the implementation has to be done physically, the chances of employees turning up and willingly submitting their personal devices for a few hours or days for the BYOD solution to be implemented are next to zero.

    The BYOD solutions that usher in ease of enrollment and over-the-air policy application can ensure no device is left untouched! The IT teams can simplify the process by connecting their existing user directories via Azure AD, Office 365, or G Suite and invite employees to BYOD management. This will ensure that the BYOD solutions encompass the entire list of devices used by the employees for work.

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    3. Enforce password protection

    When employee devices are unmonitored or out of the radar of the IT teams, the corporate data on them is vulnerable and open to attacks and misuse. While organizations cannot enforce passwords on employees’ personal devices or control who they share them with, they can enforce passwords on the corporate apps and files on the device using a BYOD management solution.

    The complexity of the password can be predefined, and IT admins can set a periodic reset, ensuring that the passwords are frequently changed.

    4. Preventing copy from work to personal apps

    One of the key concerns of BYOD security for small businesses as well as large organizations alike is the handover between personal and work apps on employee devices. Using BYOD solutions, the copy between work and personal apps can be restricted, and employees can access work files only from pre-approved apps, installed and managed by the organization.

    5. Enabling authentication using digital certificates

    When employees use personal devices for work, there is little control over which network the devices are connected to outside the office perimeter. For corporate-owned devices, an MDM can push secure networks and block the rest, but for employee-owned devices, this is not possible. Password thefts caused by connecting to unknown networks can leave access to corporate networks, apps and data exposed.

    To avoid the same, for BYO devices, IT teams can enable seamless device authentication to corporate networks via digital certificates. Digital certificates simplify the task of authenticating devices and checking for security when operating in unknown networks. This eliminates the need for a login ID and password to connect to the corporate network and also protects it from falling prey to attackers if and when the employee device connects to an unknown network. BYOD solutions can enable digital certificate distribution, implementation, management and can also revoke the same when the device is no longer associated with the organization.

    6. Configuring VPN to access work apps and data

    As mentioned above, controlling which networks the employees connect their devices to is beyond the control of the IT admins. To mitigate the security risks posed by connecting to unknown, untrustworthy networks, corporate resources are protected with a firewall. Employees using personal devices for work, connecting from shared, open, and public networks can hence not access these resources, which is counter-productive.

    BYOD solutions can help enforce VPN aka virtual private networks. This creates a safe passageway to the network and helps in providing secure access to the corporate resources that are protected by a firewall. BYOD solutions can selectively enforce work apps to be routed via a VPN (which is straightforward for the Android work container) or do so by implementing a per-app VPN. The BYOD solutions tunnel the work apps via the chosen VPN enabling the employees to work from anywhere and allowing them to connect their personal devices to unauthorized networks.

    7. Securing enterprise communication and collaboration

    Another important aspect to consider while understanding the BYOD security risks is the one arising from the communication tools that are used by the employees to communicate with their teams from their personal devices. Using communication tools that are not secure or are not business-only can jeopardize communication confidentiality, unintentionally or otherwise. A BYOD solution that comes with pre-packaged communication, the suite can help keep work and personal conversations separate. It can also ensure that corporate file sharing is seamless between pre-approved business contacts.

    Closing lines…

    BYOD is the future of work. By implementing a robust BYOD solution, the security risks around the same can be mitigated, and organizations can move forward toward BYOD deployment with more confidence.

    Renuka Shahane
    Renuka Shahane
    Renuka Shahane is an avid reader who loves writing about technology. She is an engineering graduate with 10+ years of experience in content creation, content strategy and PR for web-based startups.

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