Today’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has become so commonplace in the workforce that one would be shockingly out of touch to label it as a “new” trend. Markets and Markets even projects North America’s BYOD adoption rate to leap to 50% by the end of 2017. And global enterprises are no longer the only organizations jumping on the BYOD bandwagon — Tech Pro Research reports that over 70% of businesses with 50-249 employees now allow BYOD usage.
Despite this spike in BYOD adoption — especially among small- and mid-sized businesses — security remains a sticking point for many organizations. In fact, Tech Pro Research has found that security concerns prevent approximately 78% of companies from enabling BYOD usage. The question is, are these concerns warranted? Yes and no.
BYOD does potentially expose IT environments to greater risk for security breaches and data loss. However, a well-managed network that incorporates the right security measures can help mitigate the risks associated with BYOD. And the good news for SMBs is that many best-practice security measures don’t require major investments or additional IT expertise.
Here are six security best practices every SMB should follow before implementing a BYOD program.
1. Recognize Security Is an Issue
Shockingly, 87% of small business owners do not feel they’re at risk of experiencing a data breach, according to research by Manta Media Inc. Based on the Ponemon Institute’s 2016 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (SMB), however, this lack of concern may be misguided.
According to the report:
- 50% of SMBs have been breached this year.
- 59% of SMBs have no visibility into employee password practices.
- 65% of SMBs that have a password policy do not strictly enforce it.
Cyberthreats are real for every SMB, especially in the age of BYOD. The first step to effectively addressing BYOD security risks is acknowledging they exist.
2. Develop a BYOD Policy
To mitigate security threats, BYOD usage should always operate within a strict BYOD policy. This policy dictates the rules enforcing a workforce’s device usage and how those devices should be managed, including:
- Mobile device management rules — IT should have access to any device that has access to the business network
- Requirements for registering new devices and reporting lost or stolen ones
- Restrictions on remote access to data — some teams restrict based on device-specific identifiers, like MAC addresses
- Authentication parameters — two-factor authentication is often advised
- Limitations on personal email use for delivering work-specific information
- Specific access permissions — all access should be password protected
3. Back Up Data
Backing up data should be a required process for every business’ device users. Not only does this enable users to recover information in the event of technical or network issues, but it also ensures businesses can access and protect data should a device be lost or stolen. With this in mind, it’s critical that SMBs put a standard data recovery process in place as part of their BYOD policy and make sure device users are trained on how to back up and recover data properly.
4. Update Software and Applications
Another core BYOD security component is keeping OS, software and device applications up to date. Device users play a key role in the updating process. Making these updates in real time helps improve device performance and user experience, and the updates also contain essential security patches built for new threats and hacking techniques.
5. Control Wireless Connectivity
Network connectivity is also critical to BYOD security, especially as user bases grow and become more geographically dispersed. Users should always make sure their WiFi or Bluetooth is turned off when not in use. This prevents them from unknowingly connecting to unsecure networks. In addition, business leaders and IT staff can set up network parameters to let devices connect only to trusted networks and prompt users before connecting to new or unfamiliar networks.
6. Encrypt Data
Businesses also need to make sure sensitive data is encrypted. This is especially important — and challenging — in today’s environment where email, collaboration tools (like Skype for Business and iMessage) and even social media platforms (like LinkedIn and Twitter) are often used to communicate business information. Because of this, it’s important that SMBs set up encryption policies or work with a trusted partner that can implement the correct policies for their data.
The BYOD craze isn’t slowing down, and technology advancements will only continue to make device usage and management more seamless and intuitive for SMBs. Data security should remain a top priority for businesses, however, and leaders should seek out the right insights and best practices for keeping their BYOD security measures optimized.
If you’re interested in implementing a BYOD policy at your business or optimizing the one you currently have in place, connect with the team at Select Communications.