The trend of “bring your own device(BYOD)” is increasing in popularity as more and more employees use their devices for work purposes. While BYOD can offer many benefits to businesses, such as increased productivity and flexibility, it poses some security risks. To protect your business from these risks, it is essential to have your device policy in place.
Why are we talking about this? As a network penetration testing company, we come across security reviews and assessments around BYOD checks against devices and wireless implementations. This validation work against security controls is vendor and technology agnostic. It is aimed at helping the customer irrespective of which products/solutions they use and how best to utilise these to secure the underlying assets.
Your “Bring Your Own Device” security policy should cover several areas, including what devices are allowed, what software can be installed on them, how they will be used, and how data will be stored and accessed. It is also essential to ensure that all employees understand and agree to the policy before permitting them to use their devices for work purposes on the company network.
Therefore, this article will briefly discuss BYOD and its security. We will also talk about BYOD risks and BYOD security solutions.
Bring your own devices (or disaster?)
There is no doubt that the bring your device (BYOD) program is growing in popularity as most employees use their mobile devices for work purposes. While BYOD can offer many benefits to businesses, such as increased productivity and flexibility, it poses some security risks. To decide whether BYOD is right for your business, you must weigh the pros and cons carefully. BYOD devices include employee-owned devices such as smartphones, personal computers and other devices rather than corporate devices on the company networks.
Some potential benefits of BYOD include lower costs for hardware and software, increased employee satisfaction, and improved productivity. In consideration, a few risks need your attention, such as data breaches and unauthorised access to corporate systems. It is necessary to have a BYOD policy in place that covers all of these areas before allowing employees to bring their devices inside the company premises.
Risks of using personal devices on the corporate network
In addition to technical challenges, the primary BYOD risks are security and privacy. Addressing device compatibility issues, accessing shared files or printers on a network and connecting to wifi are technical challenges for IT departments and security teams.
Both organisations and employees face security risks and privacy risks in different ways. Corporate data security is much more of a concern for organisations (and how behaviours of a user threaten it). There is a growing concern among employees about the confidentiality and privacy of their data.
BYOD Security risks
The following are the different security issues related to BYOD policy:
- Data loss- Physically lost or stolen device (thus, sensitive data loss or compromise)
- Insider attacks- An organisation’s local area network (LAN) is vulnerable to insider attacks that can be difficult to prevent since a valid user profile is used.
- Local Exposure- Data transmitted, stored, and processed on a personal device is not controlled and visible, and it is one of the inherent downsides of BYOD.
- Public Exposure-Enterprise data is transmitted, stored, and processed on a personal device without control or visibility, and this is one of the inherent drawbacks of BYOD.
- Malicious Apps- devices with a weakened sense of integrity. An example is installing applications with different levels of trust on the same machine and, for instance, enabling location-based services or permitting push notifications. Inter-application messages can be sniffed, modified, or stolen by malicious applications, compromising trusted applications. Additionally, also compromise official app store apps. Wired reported in 2015 that Apple removed over 300 pieces of software from the app store. Infected iOS apps were created by malware targeting developers’ toolsets.
- Rogue apps– There is a risk that users can bypass security restrictions (aka “rogue employees”) by gaining root access to mobile devices. They could install rogue apps.
- Data leakage– The risk of enterprise data being exposed or leaked through an unprotected device
- Insecure usage- Impermissible if a third party uses BYOD. For example- friends or family at home.
- OS-specific security customisation– The user could remove vendors’ configuration restrictions by executing three popular procedures, which include “unlock”, “root”, or “jailbreaking”. Insecure applications are made more vulnerable by them. Sensitive data or device sensors(e.g. camera, microphone), which are without restriction stored on the device, could be accessed by them.
- Cross-contamination– is just one of the (many) risks associated with sharing information between personal and corporate accounts. Accidental deletion of corporate data is possible.
Companies can legally access servers and networks of the company because BYODs access them. In the begging, concerns of employees around privacy were Big Brother-type ones. Among these concerns were whether companies would be able and entitled to snoop on private communications and restrict private internet use, such as accessing social media. However, this is agreed by experts that what is done by employees in their spare time is taken interest by not only employees. Their main concern is whether what they are doing can compromise the company’s security in any way. Its fine line whether how deeply an organisation can should and needs to delve into personal data has been made very clear. The fact includes the following:
- Big Brother- Although it isn’t intentional like Orwell’s antihero, a company’s IT department is likely to be aware of an employee’s online activities and physical location at all times.
- Litigation- Employees’ mobile may be subject to discovery requests in litigation involving an organisation.
- Personal data loss- Dependencies by BYOD security of a company could be made on software which doesn’t make a difference between personal and corporate data. Thus, Personal and corporate, including everything on the device, could automatically be deleted(called remote wipe) if there is a perceived security breach. It will be challenging if your first child’s first birthday video isn’t backup.
In the healthcare industry, security and data privacy are conceivably highest. Because for cybercriminals, the data of patients are specifically profitable. Identifying information, insurance, financial data, and medical histories are at risk.
BYOD security policy
Your BYOD policies should cover several areas, including what type of employee devices are allowed, what personal applications can be installed on them, what should be the way of personal use, and how data will be stored and accessed. It is also essential to ensure that all employees understand and agree to the “Bring Your Own Device” policies before allowing them to use their own devices for work purposes.
Suppose an employee is using his device for employee productivity. If an employee’s device gets stolen, then using the stolen device, attackers can have access to the employee’s data along with the corporate data. BYOD policies must be implemented on every device, and all machines must be password-protected.
Features of a great BYOD security solution
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) security solution offers several features to help protect an organisation’s data. BYOD security solutions typically include a mobile device management (MDM) system to manage and secure mobile devices and a mobile application management (MAM) system to manage and secure mobile applications. BYOD security solutions may include data encryption, wipedowns, and remote access controls.
In this section, we will discuss some of the features in detail. The following are those features:
Data Loss Prevention(DLP)
Regarding Bring Your Device (BYOD) security measures, enterprises must consider data loss prevention (DLP) as an essential strategy. DLP solutions help organisations protect their sensitive data from accidental or intentional leaks by employees who use their own devices for work purposes.
There are many different ways in which DLP solutions can be implemented, but they all share the same goal of preventing sensitive data from leaving the organisation’s network. Standard features of DLP solutions include data encryption, activity monitoring, and device management.
Data encryption is a crucial feature of DLP solutions because it ensures that only authorised users can access the data. This is especially important for organisations that allow employees to use their devices for work purposes.
Mobile Application Management
From the BYOD security measure point of view, Mobile Application Management (MAM) is a way to protect enterprise data and applications from being compromised by malicious or unauthorised users. MAM provides a centralised platform for managing mobile apps and enforcing security policies.
MAM can remotely provision and configure mobile apps and enforce security policies such as data encryption and access control. It can also be used to monitor app usage and track user activity. MAM is an integral part of any BYOD security strategy, as it helps to ensure that only authorised users can access corporate data and applications. It also helps to prevent data leaks and malware infections by malicious or unauthorised users. This way, it enhances the company’s security and contains any security breach.
Regarding data security, encryption is one of the essential tools available. By encrypting data, you can ensure that it remains confidential and secure, even if it falls into the wrong hands. Therefore, it is essential to encrypt sensitive information or company data on the devices employees carry or access using the organisation’s network connectivity.
Encryption is essential for businesses that allow employees to bring their devices (BYOD) to work. With BYOD, business data is stored on devices, not under the company’s direct control, mak, which is more vulnerable to theft or loss. If these devices are not encrypted, then the data they contain could be accessed by cyber-criminals or anyone who gets their hands on them.
Mobile device management
From the BYOD point of view, Mobile Device Management(MDM) is essential. It allows organisations to manage, monitor, and secure employee-owned mobile devices accessing corporate data over the corporate network. This includes setting up remote wiping if a device is lost and ensuring that only approved apps can be installed on company-issued devices. It can also wipe the data from the stolen devices using remote access. It is beneficial for security concerns to protect data. You can read more about mobile device security here.
MDM can also track device usage and location and set up content filters to prevent employees from accessing inappropriate websites or downloading malware. By using MDM, companies can protect data while allowing employees to use their own devices for work, and it is a critical security measure the IT department should consider.
The trend of employees bringing their own devices to work, known as BYOD, has been rising recently. This can cause a severe security risk to businesses, as sensitive data may be stored on these devices and fall into the wrong hands. One way to mitigate this risk is through containerisation.
Containerisation is virtualisation that allows you to isolate applications and their dependencies from the underlying operating system. That means that the data within the container should be safe if a device is lost or stolen. There are a number of different methods to use containers for BYOD security. One option is to use a container-based security solution like MobileIron or Good. These solutions create a separate container on the device for corporate data, preventing the data from being accessed by malicious apps or malware.
Another option is to use containerisation as part of your overall BYOD policy. You can require employees to use containers for their work-related apps and data, which can help keep the data separate from personal information on the device. Finally, you can also use containers to secure specific types of data.
For example, you may want to build a separate container for sensitive financial information, which can help prevent this data from being accessed by unauthorised users. Overall, containerisation is an essential tool for BYOD security and can help protect your data from breaches and other security threats.
Bring your device (BYOD) security is a hot topic in the business world today. While many companies are still struggling to come up with a comprehensive strategy to deal with this new challenge, it is clear that BYOD security must be taken seriously. The potential risks of employees using their devices for work is significant and can have severe consequences for businesses. Like, a coin has two sides, the “Bring Your Own Device” also has some advantages and disadvantages.
To mitigate these risks, businesses must implement a BYOD security strategy that includes policies and procedures for dealing with BYOD devices. Additionally, businesses should consider investing in BYOD security solutions to help them protect their data and networks from BYOD-related threats. In this article, we have discussed BYOD security along with the policies, and we also have concerned about some of the features that a good BYOD security solution should offer.
FAQs on BYOD security risks and prevention
How secure is BYOD?
Most experts agree that BYOD security is a significant concern for businesses today. In addition to the benefits of letting employees use their own devices for work, there are also substantial risks. These risks can include data breaches, loss or theft of devices, and malicious software infections.
Is BYOD good for a small business?
There is no proper and accurate answer to whether BYOD suits small businesses. It depends on various factors, including the size and nature of the company, the security risks involved, and the policies and procedures in place to mitigate those risks.
Why do you need a BYOD policy?
The BYOD policy consists of rules that permit staff members to use their devices at work. The policy specifies what is and is not allowed regarding connectivity, data storage, and device usage. It also offers advice on how to protect company data when utilising personal devices for work-related activities.
What are the possible disadvantages of a Bring Your Device BYOD policy?
There are a few potential disadvantages to instituting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in the workplace. First, employees may be less productive if they use their own devices for work purposes. Second, there is the potential for increased security risks, as employees’ personal devices may not be as secure as company-issued devices. Finally, BYOD policies can be challenging to manage and enforce.
How can BYOD security be improved?
There are various effective ways to improve BYOD security:
- Make sure that all devices are updated to the newest operating systems version and the latest security patches available
- Install and maintain a comprehensive mobile security solution on all devices
- Educate employees about best practices for BYOD security, such as not sharing passwords or downloading apps from unknown sources.
- Establish clear company policies and procedures for BYOD use in the workplace, including specifying which data and applications can be accessed on personal devices.
- Regularly monitor endpoint devices and network activity for BYOD security threats and comply with all the security requirements.
By implementing these measures, organisations can significantly improve their BYOD security posture and protect their data from potential threats.
Get in touch to discuss your wireless security concerns, BYOD or network security issues.
Shahrukh, is a passionate cyber security analyst and researcher who loves to write technical blogs on different cyber security topics. He holds a Masters degree in Information Security, an OSCP and has a strong technical skillset in offensive security.