The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) IT approach has many benefits — it allows new businesses to launch quickly and provides employees with increased opportunities for productivity. As a business grows in complexity and/or requires greater levels of data security, however, BYOD can become an internal threat to a company’s longevity. In this article, we cover the basics of BYOD and some special considerations for managing this approach to IT infrastructure.
What is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?
BYOD is an IT strategy that allows employees to use their own smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc., to access their work either on premise or remotely — this often includes SaaS programs, data files, email, and communication applications like Skype, Zoom, and Slack. Although BYOD is certainly an expedient way for employees to be productive and meet their goals, it also opens businesses up to a subset of risks that could threaten their overall health and security — we discuss these in more detail below.
Why do businesses use BYOD?
BYOD is often one of the pillars of bootstrapping — rather than spending a significant amount of money on hardware and IT infrastructure, entrepreneurs allow employees to bring their own devices at essentially no cost to the business. Further, many established businesses also offer BYOD in addition to providing employees with proprietary devices — employers often feel that allowing employees to work from their own devices will empower them and increase their productivity. With many SaaS applications available on the internet, it is often just easier for employees to access their work from whatever device is most convenient — usually their smartphones.
What are the risks of BYOD?
BYOD opens employers up to two serious risks: unauthorized access and data breaches. Unauthorized access is always a risk in a BYOD environment. If a device is stolen, lost, left unattended, or connected to an open network, criminals can easily hack your network, steal proprietary data, or, worse, release ransomware that completely seizes your data and halts operations.
How can a business run BYOD more safely?
If you are looking for ways to more effectively manage BYOD within your own company, consider implementing a series of BYOD best practices to keep your data, employees, customers, and overall business safe:
- Virtual Private Network (VPN): A VPN creates a secure, private connection on a public network by encrypting an employee’s data, masking their IP address, and minimizing the visibility of their activity overall.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM): Installing MDM software allows your IT team to monitor your employees’ BYOD machines.
- Role-Based Data Provisioning: If your employee uses a variety of SaaS programs, assigning employees to provisioned roles minimizes your risk of data loss should their device fall into the wrong hands.
- IT Oversight: Whether you maintain your IT support in-house or outsource to an IT Managed Services Provider, it is important that your IT supervisors implement the tools above and develop an actionable set of BYOD policies. New devices should be registered with IT, devices should not be used on open networks, and employees should receive a set of guidelines regarding both approved and unauthorized usage.
While BYOD is a convenient way to manage IT and improve employee productivity, it also opens a business up to considerable risk. Consider working with an IT Managed Services Provider like Qnectus to develop and institute a set of best practices to mitigate BYOD-related risks — contact us today.