BYOD started trending around the time we first published this article. Still, the pandemic and adopting the work-from-home model have made the BYOD model necessary for small businesses and larger corporations. Discussions around Bring Your Own Device(BYOD) remain hot in the infosec sector. There are also concerns for companies who want to prioritize the cybersecurity of their critical data and assets against BYOD security risks.
In this article, we will share insights on what BYOD policy is about, its attack surfaces, and how you can implement security best practices and policies across the board.
Quick stats about Bring Your Own Device(BYOD)
Let’s explore some quick stats on BYOD security risks for 2023 reported by Techjury
- Over 67% of employees use their devices in the workplace. Why not? Employees can personalize interaction better and faster with their devices than with corporate devices.
- BYOD records about $350 value per employee annually. Without a BYOD policy, a company misses a $350 value that could be added to its bottom line.
- About 87% of businesses need employees to use their personal devices to access mobile business applications.
- Presently, 69% of infosec decision-makers in the U.S. support BYOD.
- A report by GlobeNewswire estimated that the BYOD global market will reach USD 587.3b by 2030 at a 16.20 CAGR.
These statistics all mean that the Bring Your Own Device(BYOD) model will continue to see greater adoption.
What is a BYOD policy?
A BYOD policy stipulates what your company sees as an acceptable use of technology, how it works, and guidelines for securing your business from cyber threats such as phishing, data breaches, and ransomware. A BYOD policy ensures everyone is on the same page and understands the risks and impacts of BYOD on your company’s operation.
What are BYOD’s attack surfaces?
As a risk management and cybersecurity firm, we have discovered over the years that the weakest link in any organization’s cybersecurity endeavor is the people. We recently collaborated with a fintech company that was initially hesitant to implement BYOD policies and best practices across the board.
Here are the attack surfaces we discovered in the long run.
Unauthorized applications: Several unauthorized applications were installed on some of the employee devices, which could compromise the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of the company’s information and systems. Threat actors can access the organization’s data and perform malicious intent. They can access the device location, files, network settings, applications, and other critical data stored on the device. In a nutshell, BYOD opens the door to malware and ransomware attacks.
Data Leaks: A report published by TechRepublic reveals that work-related phishing attacks have targeted about 43% of employees via their personal devices. This was not lesser than the truth when Kalles Group’s infosec team conducted pen testing with this client. Our team discovered some social media applications serving as vectors or platforms for attackers to exploit and gain access to the corporate system.
Device sharing: A quick poll at the organization also revealed that employees share their mobile devices with their siblings and spouses. This means accidental data leaks could dampen the integrity of the data stored on the employee’s device.
Device rooting/jailbreaking: Our team discovered several mobile devices capable of bypassing some standard security permissions. It means users can access applications and some core operating system unrelated to their line of duty.
These were just a few of the BYOD risks discovered by our team and it proved that if the home front is secured, organizations can easily contain external attacks.
How to mitigate BYOD risks and implement security best practices
From our different undertakings, here are some basic guidelines to help your IT team secure every end-user device within a BYOD environment.
Implement policies: You don’t have to fear BYOD risks if you have well-defined policies to maintain security in a BYOD environment. These policies should outline the acceptable use of personal devices, define security requirements and stipulate non-compliance consequences. Policies should cover password complexity, device configuration, and restrictions on certain websites and applications. As of April 2023, 34 out of 50 states have banned the use of the Tiktok app by state employees. The federal government altogether banned it for federal employees in all the states. Interestingly, Tiktok is not the only app that puts your organization’s data at risk. There are several others.
Create onboarding and offboarding procedures: Developing formidable onboarding and offboarding procedures is crucial to ensure that only authorized devices can access your company resources. While onboarding new employees, check their devices thoroughly for security compliance and install necessary security configurations and software. Also, when they are leaving, revoke all access promptly and securely wipe any company data on their devices.
Handle data securely: Data security is crucial in a BYOD environment. There is a need to educate employees about the importance of data protection and set up guidelines for handling sensitive information across personal devices. This should cover encrypting data in transit and at rest, employing secure file-sharing methods, and establishing data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to prevent unauthorized data leakage.
Apply technical security controls:
Implementing technicals security controls is pivotal to ensure you secure every end-user device within your BYOD environment: These controls may include:
- mobile device management controls- how you intend to manage all personal devices connecting remotely or on-site.
- network access controls- ensuring only authorized and compliant devices gain access to your company’s network.
- endpoint protections- how to deploy robust malware solutions and antivirus in detecting and mitigating security threats.
- virtualization- how you will isolate all BYOD devices to work in an isolated environment so that when there is any security issue, it won’t affect other settings.
Train all employees: Security awareness and training programs will go a long way to educate every member of your organization. Training should factor in your executives, contractors, freelancers, volunteers, and interns who may have access to your company resources. Training should include how to identify phishing attacks, how to handle sensitive data, as well as best practices to secure personal devices. It is also important to regularly remind your team about updates relating to emerging security threats.
We know you are wondering how to prioritize all these security strategies and still focus on the main business. That’s where our team at Kalles Group comes in. We can help you establish a robust BYOD policy and best practices or optimize your cybersecurity strategies to align with the current realities in the threat landscape.
The best time to prioritize the security of your BYOD environment and critical data is now. The next best time is now.