June 17, 2024

What You Should Know Before Implementing a BYOD Policy

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a common workplace IT policy allowing employees to use their personal smartphones and other electronic devices for work. BYOD policies are so common in fact, that nearly 83% of companies today already have a policy of some kind in place.

Implementing a BYOD policy has its advantages for businesses and employees, such as reducing hardware expenses for employers. Employees appreciate the convenience of using a device already known to them, often leading to heightened job satisfaction. Today, smartphones are the most prevalent personal device brought to work and used by employees. Personal tablets, laptops, and USB drives are also frequent in the workplace.

But however convenient it may be to use a personal device for work purposes, the ability of those devices to access confidential company data does pose security concerns. According to the SlashNext BYOD Security Report, safeguarding corporate data while preserving employee privacy is the number one priority for nearly 90% of security leaders.

If you are thinking about implementing a BYOD policy, here are eight common issues you should be aware of from a security standpoint, along with some practical tips to help you resolve them:

  1. Loss of company or client data. Allowing employees to use personally-owned devices to do their jobs increases the risk of company or client data loss. To mitigate this risk, it’s vital to develop a comprehensive BYOD policy that not only outlines usage but also delineates specific security protocols employees must observe while using their devices.

  2. Bad apps. A SlashNext report found that 85% of employers require work-related apps to be installed on the personal devices of employees. However, employees may inadvertently download a malicious app or become the victim of a phishing scam. To mitigate this risk, you should consider providing staff with a list of potentially harmful apps to avoid downloading. Likewise, you may want to recommend that all app purchases be made through the Apple App Store or Google Play, further reducing the risk of problematic apps that could increase the chances of inappropriate data sharing or theft.

  3. Lost or stolen devices. Portability increases the risk of devices getting lost or being stolen, which is why it’s important to have IT safeguards in place that are clearly articulated in the BYOD policy. Ensure all employees know that in the event of a lost or stolen device, they should immediately notify their employer.

  4. Poor work habits. Research indicates that employee negligence is a significant contributor to data breaches. Hackers exploit human susceptibility to phishing attacks, often using deceptive links to deploy ransomware and compromise confidential data. According to Stericycle's 2023 Data Protection Report, 1 in 4 small business leaders surveyed experienced a data breach, with 50% attributing it to employee error. To address this vulnerability, providing comprehensive training is essential, empowering employees to identify security risk factors and equipping them with the knowledge needed to respond effectively. By cultivating a culture of awareness and proactive security measures, organizations can significantly reduce the likelihood of data breaches stemming from poor work habits.

  5. Compliance. There are different laws that companies must adhere to in the workplace. In some legal proceedings, work-related items on employee-owned devices will be required. To ensure compliance, you should include security laws and legislation that are specific to your industry in your BYOD policy while instructing your employees to back up company data periodically.

  6. Data ownership. There may be questions about who owns the data on personal devices used for company purposes. The BYOD policy should unequivocally state that the organization retains ownership of company data stored on employee devices, while also stressing the importance of employees backing up their personal data.

  7. Employee concerns. When using their own devices, employees worry about a loss of privacy and are concerned that their employer could obtain their personal information, such as health and financial data, as well as their photos and videos. Implementing mobile device management (MDM) technology can help reassure employees that their personal data remains protected.

  8. Old and outdated equipment. When employees get a new smartphone, they often haphazardly store the old one or give it away. However, wiping the memory or deleting sensitive information does not guarantee its destruction. You may consider requiring employees to bring in their outdated BYOD smartphones for secure destruction by the company’s information security partner.

Establishing and maintaining a secure mobile device policy is just one important step in protecting your company’s confidential information.

Learn more about how Shred-it® can help with your privacy and information security policies, training, and resources.