BYOD Security: 5 Tips for IT ProfessionalsMay 5, 2014 No Comments
Personal devices have become a common part of the working environment now, often performing tasks and providing access that was once reserved for company-owned devices. More and more, companies are adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, allowing employees to use their own devices both inside and outside the office. Putting these policies into practice can lead to greater employee satisfaction and better business efficiency, but it can also cause some major headaches for IT professionals. Chief among their concerns is the issue of security–how to ensure data on these devices remains protected.
With the growing prevalence of BYOD, IT workers have to address BYOD security amid a more complicated landscape. IT workers now have to manage hundreds if not thousands of different devices, each with their own security risks, and that’s not taking into account the thousands of different applications each device can run. Couple that with the growing use of cloud-based computing which can be run from nearly any device, and safeguarding a company’s important information becomes all the more difficult. Big data companies also use applications to collect data from mobile devices, further complicating the security issue. Finding solutions for these problems is pivotal for IT professionals before the problems get too big.
1. Define the Rules
The first step toward making a secure BYOD program is to set down clearly defined rules and regulations. Establish what is to be expected from the employee when he or she brings in a device. That way, employees will know what is and is not allowed. They’ll also know precisely when they are operating devices outside the limits placed by the company. A standardized system avoids unnecessary confusion and usually clears up questions employees may have.
2. Communication Is Key
When setting up these clearly outlined policies, it’s also important to communicate with the employees. Get feedback from workers over what they find acceptable. One reason BYOD programs fail is because employees feel policies that are too restrictive eliminate the point of bringing a personal device in the first place. At the same time, IT workers should explain the “why” behind the policies. If employees don’t understand the security concerns at the root of the policies, they may not accept the added restrictions. Finding a good middle ground can help keep both parties happy.
3. Mobile Device Management
Once policies are put into place, having strong Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a crucial part of a BYOD program. MDM essentially enforces the policies that have been adopted. It determines what applications are allowed, since there are many apps that pose security risks. Apps can either contain malicious code or security holes, or they can have security weaknesses and vulnerabilities. MDM should also classify the data within a business’s network, the groups of users who have access to that data, and the devices that are used on the network. Classifying allows the IT department to better manage who and what gets authorization to sensitive data.
4. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Another useful and economical tool for keeping a secure BYOD program is to adopt a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). A VDI helps to secure the data that a business uses. It allows IT workers to manage their clients’ devices from a central location. In addition to that, data is kept in a more secure location because it never leaves the data center. Data is then easier to monitor, and the IT department can better react to security threats.
5. Plan For The Worst
Plan beforehand for emergencies that may arise as more employees take advantage of the BYOD program. Mobile devices are going to get lost as some point no matter how much employees take care of them. Decide what to do now in case there’s a significant security risk. If the consequences are serious, such as remote wiping a device, make sure the policies reflect them and that employees understand what will happen. Planning for the worst-case scenarios saves valuable time and effort when the situations actually happen.
BYOD isn’t going away anytime soon, and businesses leaders are sure to see what can be gained from adopting the policies. Keeping a company’s data secure is a top priority, and BYOD presents clear challenges, but those obstacles can be dealt with effectively. While it may lead to extra work for the IT department, many of the biggest hassles can be avoided or mitigated.
by Rick DelGado, Independent Author
“I’ve been blessed to have a successful career and have recently taken a step back to pursue my passion of writing. I’ve started doing freelance writing and I love to write about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet.” – Rick DelGado
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