Risks When You BYOD: How to Protect You and Your Company’s Data

  • By Rita
  • Apr 08, 2022

Risks of Bring Your Own Device
With remote and mixed working arrangements becoming more common, companies are becoming aware of the many benefits and risks of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). 

With the increase in the number of devices entering and leaving company property, a clear and effective policy is essential to mitigate the risks brought by BYOD. There are risks BYOD brings but also ways companies can reduce these risks.

What is BYOD?

As earlier stated, BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. Simply put, this is the trend where employees bring personal devices (such as phones, laptops, and Bluetooth devices) into a workplace and connect them to work networks. 

Connecting to these company networks may put sensitive information at risk or open up the network to cyber-attacks.

How Common is BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device Facts

This practice is growing across a whole host of industries. To understand just how important BYOD is becoming, have a look at these facts:

  • Over 60% of workers in Generation Y, when given a choice between company devices and their own devices, prefer to use their own devices.
  • The market for BYOD has grown exponentially in the last decade. In 2014, the market was worth only $30 billion. Today, it is worth over $360 billion.
  • According to CISCO, BYOD is already present in the majority of companies. Of the businesses surveyed, 89% of their IT departments supported BYOD.

BYOD is becoming an increasingly critical part of the working world. Companies will have to learn to adapt or face various risks that we will discuss later in this article.

Why Try BYOD?

While many risks come with BYOD, several benefits include:

  1. Better Work-Life Balance: Employees that use BYOD may have a better work-life balance.
    Employees more easily deal with information sent to them and respond promptly. This gives them more time outside of work to get everything done while in the office.
  2. Connecting a Scattered Workforce: One of the advantages of BYOD is connecting a dispersed workforce. As more people choose to work from home, BYOD can help keep them connected with their co-workers in the office without needing to install proprietary equipment.
  3. Reduced Costs: By allowing employees to use their own devices, companies will not have to pay for expensive equipment for all of their employees.
    Devices such as phones, laptops, keyboards, and others can quickly become costly when buying them for hundreds of employees. Allowing BYOD can lead to a reduction in costs for the company.
  4. Increased Productivity: Employees are more familiar with their own devices than a device given to them by their employer. This familiarity means there is no need for training, which can be disruptive and expensive.
    There is also evidence that employees are more productive when using their own devices when compared to using company devices.

As you can see, several benefits come from allowing BYOD. There are risks that come with the increasing prevalence of BYOD.

Potential Risks of BYOD

Risks of BYOD

A few of these dangers include:

  1. Employee Risk: One of the risks in cybersecurity comes from human error. When not sufficiently trained, employees can present a significant risk to an institution's data.
    Just a few of the most common sources of human error include falling for phishing attacks. During a phishing attack, an employee may input their details into a fraudulent site from an email, assuming that the email is legitimate.
  2. Device Theft or Loss: BYOD means that more devices will hold or access sensitive information. As such, the loss or theft of a device becomes a much larger security issue.
    A lost device could have access to the company network. If criminals steal a device that can access the company network, they could steal sensitive information without raising suspicion.
  3. Malware Infiltration: One of the risks of allowing employees to bring their own devices is malware infiltration.
    This occurs when employees download something to their device that, while it may appear harmless, is infected with malware. If this malware is allowed access to the company network, it could cause significant damage.
  4. Data Theft: Another obvious problem that arises with BYOD is data theft. Stealing and revealing or selling data is an easy way a disgruntled employee can harm their employer.
    Doing so becomes much easier when employees use their own devices to store company data. Even when an employee is not malicious, data theft can happen by accident if an employee attaches the wrong document to an email, for example.
  5. Data Breaches: If not appropriately managed, BYOD can increase the risks of a data breach. A data breach is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to a company. Customers will immediately lose faith in the company's ability to protect their information, significantly affecting profits.
  6. Legal Problems: If customer data gets into the wrong hands, the company may be liable. Liability may mean paying large sums to the affected customers and regulatory bodies.

How to Reduce These Risks

While there are a few benefits of allowing BYOD, there are several hazards that go with it. However, these risks can be mitigated by implementing and maintaining responsible policies. A few guidelines that companies planning on allowing BYOD should consider include the following: 

  • Reduce the amount of data on devices. The adage that you "don't put all your eggs in one basket" applies here. If companies limit the amount and type of data on each device, this can reduce the risk of a data breach.
  • Plan for when an employee leaves. When an employee leaves, there needs to be a procedure in place to remove sensitive information and permissions from their devices. By doing this, companies can reduce losing control of sensitive information.
  • Provide proper training. Human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches. Therefore, the best way to avoid this is for companies to teach employees how to use their devices responsibly while at work. 

Providing proper training when onboarding new employees is one of the most cost-effective ways to decrease the risks of a data breach.

Define acceptable use. Inform your employees of the permissible limits of BYOD at work. One option may be to restrict what kinds of applications are allowed. Another may be to prevent access to certain websites while on the company's network.

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