Written by: Daniel Haurey on 06/20/24

While Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has been widespread for more than a decade, the surge in remote work since 2020 has pushed its popularity to new levels. With this increase in usage comes heightened cybersecurity threats, making a detailed and highly visible BYOD policy a necessity for any organization offering this option to employees.

Balance BYOD Risks with Advantages

BYOD offers several advantages, including improved productivity, cost savings, increased flexibility, employee satisfaction, and innovation. However, these benefits come with challenges, particularly when it comes to managing and securing business data on personal devices while also respecting employee privacy.

Enabling BYOD requires navigating:

  1. Complex support: Unlike standardized support for company-owned devices, BYOD support can be intricate, especially when distinguishing between work-related and personal data and devices.
  2. Limited control: With personal devices, it’s challenging to control app downloads and ensure security.
  3. Cybersecurity vulnerabilities: Personal devices may lack the robust security measures necessary to protect sensitive business data and limit access to your organization’s network.
  4. Theft: Lost or stolen devices pose significant risks of unauthorized access to confidential information.
  5. Legal and compliance risks: Storing business data on personal devices may raise compliance concerns.

How BYOD Affects Privacy Rights  

Addressing these challenges often involves implementing solutions that may raise privacy concerns among employees. It’s essential to strike a balance between data security and personal privacy by:

  1. Setting clear boundaries on accessing and managing company data on personal devices.
  2. Using consent-based monitoring for security purposes.
  3. Conducting regular audits to ensure data security and privacy.

Creating a Successful BYOD Policy

While every organization’s BYOD policy will differ based on its specific needs, there are fundamental elements that contribute to its success:

  • Define device and user profiles
  • Outline network access based on user roles and device types
  • Implement data security measures like encryption and password protection
  • Respect user privacy and limit monitoring to work-related activities
  • Address liability and compliance considerations
  • Document risk tolerance and provide enhanced security measures for high-risk scenarios
  • Offer guidance on device updates and theft/loss reporting
  • Conduct regular employee training on responsible device use
  • Clearly communicate adherence expectations and consequences for policy violations
  • Continuously review and update your BYOD policy

Implementing an effective BYOD policy requires finding the right balance between flexibility and control, accompanied by clear articulation of the policy and ongoing training for employees.

How Does Compliance Impact BYOD?

In a thorough article in TechTarget, the online magazine outlines several key steps an organization must take to be compliant while offering BYOD as a workplace option. Here’s a quick look at three of those tips:

Consider mobile device management (MDM). These platforms enable IT support teams to have policy-based management of mobile devices. By using this tool, your organization can enforce security requirements demanded by compliance standards, such as encryption, passphrases to unlock the device and certain applications, and the capacity to remotely wipe lost or stolen devices. Of note, organizations that opt to use MDM must offer employees the option to accept or decline access by company IT support, and then also have a policy for what happens from there.

Silo Your Data. Typically, siloed data is a bad thing in IT, but when it comes to protecting organizational data on a personal device without overstepping privacy rules, it is a positive. Your MSP can help you uncover the right approach – containerization or virtualization – to separate your business data and apps from your employee’s personal data on a mobile device. For those companies under the watchful eye of HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley, it is worthwhile to explore containerization built to meet those strict rules.

Schedule risk assessments and audits. While most compliance regulations demand routine risk assessments, don’t overlook your BYOD users. Those mobile devices provide easy access to your organization’s network, assets, other devices, and, yes, data. Even those employees who support BYOD policies can slip up and inadvertently download a risky app or reset a password outside the organization’s policies. Because personal devices already pose a support and management challenge, taking the time to routinely evaluate and audit their use and adherence to policies is a must-do.

Interested in a free risk assessment from Exigent?

Crafting a BYOD policy that not only protects your organization’s network but also its data – and that of your clients – usually requires the guidance of experts in cybersecurity, compliance, network design, and device management. If you are concerned, schedule your free consultation with our experts below.

In the meantime, have you checked out our blog on key organizational policies as a starting point?