4 keys to ensuring security in a BYOD environment

Jan 07th, 2014 / Category: Enterprise Mobility

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend can no longer be viewed as a fad. Such policies have become incredibly commonplace among businesses in every sector, and for good reason. Employees enjoy the flexibility and level of control offered by BYOD, while businesses appreciate the greater productivity and employee job satisfaction.

However, there are undoubtedly challenges which firms must overcome if they are to successfully take advantage of BYOD's potential, and security is paramount in this regard.

Here are four tips for ensuring that your company's BYOD deployment remains safe and secure at all times.

1. The right tools: secure AND convenient
Perhaps the most obvious consideration for any BYOD deployment is the need for secure technology. Without tools and safeguards in place, business leaders cannot hope to ensure that sensitive information remains protected while being accessed, sent and received via employees' personal devices. After all, BYOD can only prove useful if users can leverage such information whenever necessary.

Consequently, secure file transfer solutions are an essential component of effective, reliable BYOD efforts. These tools must be able to withstand attacks from determined, clever cybercriminals who are eager to steal sensitive corporate data for purposes of identity theft, fraud and blackmail.

Yet it is not enough for these file transfer offerings to be secure. Critically, they must be convenient as well. Most employees will, if forced to choose, use a risky but convenient tool rather than a secure but time-consuming solution. This means that a secure file transfer tool that is not attractive to workers actually poses a security risk, as employees will turn to Dropbox and other consumer-grade file sharing options.

Only by choosing a file transfer tool that is both secure and convenient can business leaders optimize the integrity of their BYOD environments.

2. Education
Education is another vital aspect of successful BYOD deployments, as CSO Online contributor Steve Ragan recently highlighted. Employees, even well-meaning ones, can easily forget or overlook best practices when using their mobile devices for work-related purposes. A single memo will not be sufficient to avoid lax behavior in this regard.

"Make sure that employees have some kind of a reminder when it comes to corporate policies governing personally owned mobile devices," Ragan asserted.

Without such regular reminders, bad habits can and will form, putting the company's sensitive information at risk of being lost or exposed.

3. Maintenance
Maintenance is also critical for achieving BYOD security and success. Over time, it is very possible that a company's BYOD needs will change. In addition to an evolving cybersecurity landscape, other factors include the number of users, the size of the information being sent and received and the physical location of employees embracing BYOD. All of these factors may have an impact on a firm's BYOD security needs.

By regularly assessing the state of BYOD and making upgrades and alterations as needed, business decision-makers can ensure that their mobile environments remain safe and secure even amidst significant change.

4. Respect
One final, essential factor for ensuring that BYOD deployments are both effective and secure is respect for the employees using these devices. Based on the previous steps, it may seem that corporate decision-makers should treat their employees as accidents waiting to happen when it comes to BYOD security. In reality, though, most workers will mean well and do their best to minimize risk.

These employees will also be protective of their privacy, considering that the devices in question are their own personal property. They will therefore be resistant to any security solution that is seen as invasive and disrespectful. Unfortunately, many of the mobile device management (MDM) offerings on the market do indeed entail a significant level of intrusion on the part of the company. This can cause resentment among employees, who will feel as though their organization does not respect their privacy or their independence.

By choosing a less invasive option and putting some faith in workers, business leaders can experience the benefits of BYOD without increasing the risk of a data breach or compromising employees' privacy.