Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Vladimir Ramos, General Manager of AIM Corporate Solutions.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is now bridging the gap between personal gadgets and office devices. But, what risks does this trend pose to your company’s cyber security? Read this post to find out.
Let’s face it: employers and employees alike are always looking for more ways to make work easier. It’s not about laziness, rather efficiency, as the “work smarter, not harder” adage comes to mind. Working smart means anticipating industry changes and turning them to your advantage. Essentially, this adaptability is what the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is all about.
These days, everyone’s got their own smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices. While companies used to bar these personal gadgets from office use, the trend has now shifted. In fact, according to a study done by IT research company Gartner, half of the employers will probably encourage their staff to bring their own devices for work use by 2017. While BYOD is expected to provide convenience, increased productivity, and boost morale for employees, it has become the common source of IT security breaches.
Read on as we discuss how gadgets that employees bring in the office can threaten your cyber security and what you can do to protect your company.
Identifying the Threats
Identifying the Threats
While BYOD presents many advantages for employers, there are also risks involved in the practice. Allowing the employees to bring their devices and connect it to the company network leaves your system vulnerable to attacks. And nope, we’re not even talking about hackers yet. The blow that may deal your IT security great damage may be caused by a stolen or lost device.
You may have your internal network strictly monitored, but what about your employee’s gadgets? Devices that are brought in and out of the company are more prone to loss or theft. Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report found 9,701 reports of physical theft and loss out of the 100,000 incidents they’ve studied; 56 of those were positive for a data breach.
Imagine this scenario: Jim from Sales brings in his personal laptop to work, which he uses to compile spreadsheets of the company’s clients and their details. He takes his afternoon break at a nearby coffee shop, bringing his laptop with him to catch up on the latest Game of Thrones episode. He uses the bathroom for just a minute, he comes back, and then he sees his laptop gone. It doesn’t take Sherlock to figure out that it’s been stolen, and now, those client spreadsheets that are supposed to be confidential are not so anymore.
BYOD risks also include opening up your network to viruses and cyber attacks, especially if your employee – whose device is connected to the company network – installs malware or becomes a victim of a phishing scam. These create a gaping hole in your otherwise secure internal network, making you vulnerable to hackers.
The solution to these threats isn’t to scrap your BYOD system altogether. You wouldn’t do your company any favors by missing out on a great innovation.
What you should do to lessen, if not completely eliminate, BYOD risks is to follow the best practices. Here are some practices you and your employees should strictly observe.
- Know your IT infrastructure and those connected to it.
The best way to counter BYOD risks is through strengthened IT solutions. This means knowing your IT infrastructure in and out, keeping security software up-to-date, and locating weak points in your network so it can be reinforced.
- Drill proper usage and storage of devices among employees.
Alongside improving your IT security, make sure that employees are informed on how they should use and store the personal gadgets that they bring in company premises. Remind them not to be complacent of their mobile devices, even inside the office.Follow our IT security checklist to keep employees, and even you, well-informed to protect the company from data breaches.
- Employ data encryption or remote wiping option.
Make sure that data which passes through your network to the employee’s personal device and vice versa are encrypted. Moreover, have a system wherein your IT can remotely wipe out data on a lost or stolen gadget. This prevents sensitive company information from falling into the wrong hands.
Keep Your Data Safe
Mobility is an important aspect in any modern workplace, and more so in the IT industry. Through BYOD, your employees can seamlessly transition their personal devices from personal use to work purposes.
While there are indeed threats in this approach, these can all be reduced through strengthened IT security and by following best practices. So, grab your gadgets and start working today without any worries of a cyber attack.
Author bio: Vladimir Ramos is General Manager of AIM Corporate Solutions. AIM Corporate Solutions, Inc. (ACSI) provides IT security services and outsourcing services as well as selected and proven IT-related products for various industries.