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BYOD Security: 6 Ways to Protect Mobile Devices

By Kuntal Chakraborty
Published: December 5, 2022
Key Takeaways

Without a proper BYOD policy, organizations can face severe cybersecurity threats. Safety measures like mobile device management, remote locks and data wipes, SSL security, operational tools, using trusted networks and reporting can build a successful standard.

Source: istockphoto.com

Bring your own device (BYOD) in the workplace has risen dramatically over the last few years. As more employees than ever go mobile, smartphones, tablets and other devices are allowing them to blend work and their personal lives.

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In many cases, that's a good thing: Better access can improve efficiency, and there's even some evidence that BYOD improves how people feel about their jobs.

On the other hand, of course, BYOD comes with some serious security issues that can put businesses at risk. What that means is that the next phase in BYOD is going to be all about security. (Also read: How can my business establish a successful BYOD policy?)

Here are six ways to protect BYOD mobile devices:

1. Mobile Device Management

Mobile device management (MDM) has surged in the IT industry over the last decade. In 2012, Gartner predicted that 65 percent of enterprise business will adopt MDM solutions by 2017.

MDM strategies are a big-picture approach to mobile security that uses comprehensive life cycle management to manage device content, access and authentication, as well as the device itself.

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For the most part, companies that provide mobile devices to employees specifically for business use are the main employers of MDM. However, many are looking for ways to create MDM solutions for BYOD workplaces as well. (Also read: Mobile Computing: 12 Trends to Watch in 2022.)

2. Remote Locks and Data Wipes

In addition to malware and data breaches, device theft poses a threat to business security in BYOD environments. Remote locking and data wipe capabilities are the most established security protocols currently in place to combat device theft.

Remote locking does, however, enable a company to remove sensitive files and lock down an employee device through an internet connection. While this can be effective, it doesn’t always work. The other possibility, data wiping, deletes all files and information from the device -- which, of course, makes the data irretrievable should the device be recovered.

3. SSL VPN

Secure sockets layer (SSL) security is the most impactful method to protect network connections and confidential corporate data. A SSL VPN permits users to access their own devices, keeping the network safe. In cases of mobile theft or loss, attackers can't access all data and applications of the phone.

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4. Operational Tools For Mobile App Security

Mobile devices can have many applications installed. But there is a mobile app security gap that drives users to install virus-infected applications on their mobile phones. Luckily, there are also apps that help IT department staff block local applications to keep BYOD devices safe.

Using such apps and operational tools to close the mobile app security gap and make BYOD work successfully, without causing the risk of data leaks or virus attacks, is a good strategy.

5. Understand Vulnerabilities and Use Trusted Networks Only

At the end of the day, employees should ensure they use a secure corporate network connection that allows them to use only trusted applications.

6. Report, Report, Report

Reporting real-time device data helps users prevent any unauthorized access to the corporate network.

Reporting tools and software can be used to monitor the real-time data generated from the network infrastructure and the devices connected with it. (Also read: 3 Identity and Access Management Trends.)

The Cost of Poor Mobile Security

Introducing employee-owned devices into the workplace as business tools can cause serious security problems.

Most companies are aware of the difficulties posed by the BYOD model: A 2012 survey from the Ponemon Institute found 77% of companies consider mobile devices important in the workplace. Seventy-six percent believe BYOD introduces "serious" risk.

Malware and data breaches are the main security concerns for business mobile devices. In the Ponemon study, 59 percent of businesses noted a rise in mobile malware infections over the past 12 months, with 31% reporting an increase of more than 50 percent.

Data breaches, which can be far more damaging to a company than malware, are also occurring at an alarming rate through mobile devices. The Ponemon study found 51% percent of businesses had experienced a mobile data breach, while a further 23 percent weren’t sure whether they have or not. (Also read: 10 Biggest Data Breaches of All Time - And How to Prevent Them.)

The Importance of BYOD Security

BYOD security is essential for company all managers -- not just those employing BYOD policies within their organizations -- because employees will bring personal devices to the workplace with or without the IT department's authorization.

If the IT team leaves personal devices unaddressed, access to the company's internal network through them can become a severe security issue.

Best Practices for BYOD Security

Employee Education

When employees use personal devices to work, they sometimes use software or tools of their choice without informing the company's IT team -- which puts confidential official data at risk.

To maintain data privacy, employees should know their rights regarding what they can do on their personal devices, why security measures are crucial and what could be the consequences for violating their company's IT data security policy.

Therefore, employees should take necessary IT security training. (Also read: The Human Factor of Cybersecurity: What's Putting You At Risk.)

Secure Passwords and Encryption

For data protection and employee privacy, a password or PIN is required. So, data and password encryption is a viable option to prevent confidential information from being accessed.

The purpose of educating employees is to make them aware of cybersecurity threats to the organization -- which may cause serious damage and impact their jobs.

Use Approved Devices

BYOD is not restricted to smartphones only; it can be any employee's own digital device. Employees should have the IT team approve any device they'd like to use in the workplace so they can handle any issues arising with those devices.

Ensure Protected Network Connection

When an employee connects to the internet or public Wi-Fi, there is a chance that cybercriminals can attack and intrude into their devices.

So, motivate employees to connect their devices with secured networks only -- not only in the office, but also in public. A corporate VPN can help provide better security and encryption. (Also read: Considering a VPN? Make the Right Choice for Your Needs.)

Implement a Solution for Lost Devices

If a device is lost or stolen, employees must inform their manager or IT team.

The, the IT department must take swift actions -- like a remote device lock, password reset, data wipe, application removal or any other steps deemed necessary in the organization's BYOD policy.

Conclusion

BYOD is here to stay; once technology moves forward, there's no going back.

In response, smart companies will create solutions that allow employees to use their own devices for work while still ensuring that company data is protected. In that vein, one of the strongest solutions doesn't rely on technology at all: Increasing employee education about mobile security.

Without the execution of a proper BYOD policy, organizations can face cybersecurity threats that can make the network or server infected or permanently dormant. Properly implementing necessary safety measures can build a successful standard for all companies.

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Written by Kuntal Chakraborty | IT Engineer

Profile Picture of Kuntal Chakraborty

Kuntal Chakraborty is an IT Engineer by profession and education. He has worked as a Systems Engineer and Network Engineer at Siemens and Atos.

Kuntel's current passion is Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The skills he has developed for Amazon's Echo can be acccess through the Alexa app or Amazon website.

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