BYOD (or bring your own device) is a relatively new trend in businesses, but it’s also one that’s spreading like wildfire. The concept makes sense–if employees have access to reliable hardware, why not allow them to use it for the betterment of the business? With BYOD, everything from personal USB drives to smart phones can be used in an effort to maximize productivity. It is worth noting, however, that while it has advantages in convenience, this practice raises significant security concerns.
Not only are assets like personal laptops and cell phones substantially more likely to suffer a cyber-attack, but the larger concern is that sensitive data can leave the office without you ever knowing. For instance, if an employee were to have a private document on their laptop, how could you ensure that said employee doesn’t leave their laptop somewhere it could be stolen or, worse yet, leak the information themselves?
Interestingly, the movement toward BYOD isn’t something that your organization should attempt to circumvent. This trend is so appealing to employees that the majority will simply use their own devices without keeping any record of what information goes where, and that poses substantially more security risks than simple BYOD ever could.
The Risks of Rejection
When a potentially-dangerous business practice arises, plenty of organizations would decide that the best thing to do is avoid that practice entirely. This has been the case with BYOD which, while widely accepted, has notably been rejected by some businesses in an effort to combat security risks. The danger here, of course, is that it’s difficult or impossible to enforce a ban on BYOD.
Due to the nature of BYOD, it requires employees to use personal devices for their work at the office. Naturally, this means that it’s unreasonable to expect that all employees will comply with a no-BYOD mandate when their devices are so easy to bring into work without arousing suspicion. This lack of regulation not only lessens a business owner’s authority, but it increases the likelihood of under-the-radar networks arising, which can create a new Achilles heel in your cyber security.
According to a study conducted by Frost & Sullivan, four out of five organizations are secretly housing such illicit networks due to their non-BYOD policies. This is an issue that arises regardless of business size. Skyhigh Networks, an IT consultancy, predicted that a large corporation will have no less than 545 of these networks and, in most cases, will be completely unaware of 500 of them.
What does this data mean? In short, it suggests that all of these businesses’ investments in cyber security have been wasted because they failed to appropriately plan for BYOD. In each of the aforementioned studies, the businesses weakened their own security by creating an environment where personal devices were snuck in and left with company information completely unregulated.
For the businesses that were studied, they will now have to deal with sensitive information flowing freely out of their offices and, in the worst cases, will need to completely overhaul their entire security plan. If simply banning BYOD only worsens the problem, then how can you accommodate BYOD without opening yourself up to security threats?
The Power of Regulation
While you cannot reasonably expect to completely ban BYOD in your organization, that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to suffer through weakened security. By implementing regulations of what devices are allowed to be used and what information can be taken home, you can allow for BYOD while still keeping your security tighter than ever.
For some employees, BYOD will have little to no impact. This is what happens when employees without access to sensitive information bring their devices into the workplace and conduct business on them, and there is virtually no risk due to their lack of sensitive information. But what can you do for higher ranking employees or those who are working on sensitive projects?
The answer is simple: regulate their devices. If you can keep track of whose device contains private information, then you can maintain much firmer control over your privacy and security. This regulation often requires you to maintain a document with a list of employee names and which devices they’re using on which projects. Such a document must continually be updated to ensure maximum accuracy, but it may be worthwhile as a way to keep your employees accountable for certain information.
Not only can you encourage these employees to be careful with their information, but you can take measures to ensure that they have no opportunity to–intentionally or not–leak company secrets. The key to securing your data while carefully regulating BYOD is the tried and true method of protecting private information: data destruction.
Regulation Through Data Destruction
If employees don’t have any private data on their personal devices, then there is no way for them to use those assets to weaken company security. When an employee has finished working on a project containing sensitive information, they should be required to delete any and all project data from their personal devices and, should there be a data security breach and their device is somehow linked, your organization should retain the right to wipe their hard drive to ensure that no further information can be leaked. Wiping an employee’s personal hard drive should never be a first line of defense, of course, but there are situations where such actions may be necessary to maintain data security.
Say, for example, that an employee was working on a private project but has successfully completed their work and is no longer assigned to that project. There is a data security breach and, while they claim to have deleted all project information from their laptop, you found a link between their device and the breach. Wiping their hard drive will not only guarantee that they can’t leak more information, but it will serve as a deterrent to anyone who may have been considering similar acts of theft.
By using reliable data destruction programs, you can seal any holes that BYOD has left in your workplace security. The key, of course, is that you need to be certain that your software of choice completely eradicates the sensitive data from the hardware or you’re practically begging for a cyber-attack.
For this reason, it’s best to use an internationally-acclaimed data destruction program like Clarabyte’s wipe. Not only does it meet (and often exceed) performance standards across the world, but it’s also the pinnacle of user-friendly data destruction and comes with quite the competitive price tag. Of course, as with anything else, you should never rush into a decision when selecting a product that your organization will be relying on. Instead, schedule a demo and see how Clarabyte can keep your business’ security tight, even in the face of new trends like BYOD.