With today's workforces more mobile than ever, it's never been more important to institute a robust BYOD security program.
70% of large businesses believe remote work makes them more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
While determining the correct BYOD security policy for your organization can be challenging, it’s a necessity for any company wishing to leverage the resources available to its workforce. It is one of the many ways companies leverage available resources in a way that promotes productivity and reduces costs. The trouble is, these devices are inherently more vulnerable to exposure and intrusion from malicious external actors.
What is BYOD Security & Why is It Important?
Bring your own device (BYOD) has emerged as a popular trend, referring to employees using their personal devices to connect to their corporate networks and access internal systems, resources and sensitive employee or customer data. Such personal devices may include smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.
As businesses increasingly support (and even favor) employees working remotely, the need to connect to important enterprise resources while on the go has made BYOD policies much more common. With that said, while many companies allow for BYOD, others may refuse to tolerate it due to the sensitivity of the work being conducted.
So, Why Implement BYOD Security?
With the proliferation of different personal device types and increasing adoption of BYOD policies, securing BYOD devices has become a critical focus for IT security teams today. Unfortunately, many organizations still cannot properly defend their networks from external threats brought on by vulnerable personal devices in use by employees.
In fact, while 60% of organizations allow employee-owned mobile devices to access their networks, less than 45% include employee-owned devices in the organization’s security management program.
What Are BYOD Security Risks Today?
When it comes to BYOD security, there are three main risks to keep top of mind:
- Former employees. Employees come and go. Some amicably, some not. When they leave, they take their personal devices with them. Without security controls and measures for these endpoints, IT departments can’t take action to remove or prevent further access company resources from this device. Worst case scenario: data from a personal device is leaked.
- Lost or stolen devices. The smaller our devices get, the easier they are to lose. We’re probably all guilty of misplacing our smartphone or laptop at some point in tie. According to one industry estimate, over 70 million mobile phones are lost each year, and a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds. Where do these stolen devices end up? Well, we can assume they make their way into the hands of people with malicious intent.
- Cyber threats. Cyber criminals target BYOD because the devices themselves have become more prevalent and powerful in terms of computing capacity. Today. hackers are conducting increasingly sophisticated exploits through these devices, including encrypting malicious payloads to disguise them on the network. Simply put, even a “strong” password isn’t enough to thwart their efforts.
How Can NAC Address BYOD?
With the rise of BYOD policies, network access control (NAC) is becoming a focal security technology. From device discovery, authentication, risk profiling, remediation and network segmentation, NAC is helping IT security teams maintain secure network environments, while enabling the flexibility and convenience demanded by organizations from an operational standpoint.
When it comes to BYOD, NAC can supplement your organization’s cybersecurity program. In general, when looking at NAC through the lens of BYOD, you should consider the following:
- NAC solutions should be vendor agnostic with the ability to support all wired, wireless and remote access layers across the entire network.
- With so many new devices emerging every year, your NAC solution should be able to support a wide range of mobile devices.
- For the sake of efficiency, and to help your resource-strapped network engineering team, any NAC solution must offer a variety of automated features. These should include, but are not limited to user self-provisioning, risk policy enforcement, and device remediation.
- Lastly, your NAC solution should be able to apply a range of permissions based on time, location, etc.
What is the Future of BYOD Security?
In a sense, the future of BYOD is here. COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to remote work, with some companies abandoning formal plans of returning to the office altogether. Today, more personal devices are being used for corporate operations than ever before. But as the number of different devices continues to grow exponentially year after year, finding solutions for the evolving (and increasing) number of BYOD security vulnerabilities is becoming more critical.
As we’ve covered, it’s difficult to manage devices owned by employees, especially when it come to things like software updates, malware protection and other protection strategies that can secure confidential internal data. Employees are also more likely to use their personal devices on unsecured wireless networks, allow family and friends to use their devices, or leave important data on the device when they finally get rid of it.
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