BYOD and Its Impact on Data Security

Every organization wants to be seen as progressive and tech-savvy, but many are concerned about the cost of modernization. For example, BYOD is currently a big craze, but does it open up your company to data theft risks? This is a real issue that needs to be addressed.

The Truth About BYOD and Security

How many mobile devices does your family own? Between smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearable devices, the average family of four probably has somewhere between 8-10 devices in the home. But what happens when you have an organization of 400 people and a BYOD policy that allows each individual to use their own preferred devices? Suddenly you have thousands of devices accessing your company’s private data and proprietary information.

While there are many wonderful advantages to BYOD – and it’ll soon be the norm – you can’t afford to look at it without considering security. Otherwise, you’ll end up compromised faster than you can snap your fingers.

“Data theft is at high vulnerability when employees are using mobile devices [particularly their own] to share data, access company information, or neglect to change mobile passwords,” expert Jason Cook says. “According to a BT study, mobile security breaches have affected more than two-thirds (68 percent) of global organizations in the last 12 months.”

After reading that statistic, you may be inclined to avoid BYOD altogether. But don’t just assume that BYOD is all bad. Studies continually show that it leads to higher job satisfaction, better retention rates, lower training costs, and fewer IT operational issues.

With that being said, there are two major security risks that must be addressed in order to enjoy the rewards of BYOD:

  • Mobile apps. Whether it’s your own company’s app being installed on an employee’s device and then being manipulated, or a dangerous third-party mobile creating a back-door security risk, apps are an issue that must be recognized and addressed.

  • Unsecured networks. The majority of smartphone users access unsecured networks on a weekly basis. This potentially opens their devices – which contain company data and/or apps – up to malicious hackers. While the vast majority of people won’t be attacked on an unsecured network, all it takes is one instance to harm your organization.

When one of your employees uses their smartphone or tablet and they choose to bypass traditional security checks, they’re essentially walking themselves (and your company) into a virtual war zone.

“Once in the environment, sophisticated attackers simply sit and wait for their moment to use the access they now have to target high value corporate information and resources,” Attivo Networks explains. “It is important that organizations are prepared, adding a layer of security that can identify and stop these attacks before they can do any damage. It requires solutions that can unobtrusively guard internal resources from attacks, regardless of when, where or how they enter the network.”

You Need a Plan

For all practical purposes, it’s impossible to avoid 100 percent of attacks and security threats your organization will face in the coming years. Hackers are becoming more intelligent and are always looking for ways to stay one step ahead of the security industry. However, you can greatly diminish your risk of having private data compromised by developing a robust security plan that works in tandem with your BYOD policy.

You can learn about many different techniques and strategies by checking out this article in which 30 data security experts discuss the topic. But it’s ultimately important that you remember that your company and situation are unique. You need a plan that’s tailored to your organization. Don’t stop until you find the best one.


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