The rise of remote working means more and more people are opting to use their personal laptops, phones, and tablets for work. For employees, this means more freedom and flexibility. But for IT departments, BYOD (bring your own device) can easily turn into a cybersecurity nightmare.
Here are the 5 biggest security risks of BYOD:
1. Data breaches
BYOD devices – especially mobile devices – complicate any IT security strategy. They’re often easier for employees to lose and usually aren’t as well-protected from security threats as business-owned devices.
Plus, because BYOD devices normally contain a mixture of personal and business data, they’re more difficult for IT to secure and remotely control in case something does go wrong.
2. Unsecured networks
Because of the flexibility they offer, employees often use BYOD devices on the go – it’s one of the main reasons many people opt for BYOD in the first place. And the public Wi-Fi in the café is pretty convenient if you fancy a cappuccino while you work. But connecting to an unsecured Wi-fi network puts valuable company data at risk. When employees connect to public Wi-Fi networks, their work device becomes vulnerable to attacks like:
- Honeypots: Fake Wi-Fi hotspots set up by attackers, which look legitimate to end-users.
- Snooping: Attackers listening to network traffic between two machines, potentially exposing confidential data to people outside the organization.
When drafting up a BYOD policy, it’s crucial to take these ‘third spaces’ like cafés and pubs – and their unsecured networks – into account.
3. Blurred lines
Unclear security expectations are already bad news for any IT department. But couple them with BYOD and you’ve got a potential security nightmare on your hands.
Well, if an employee is using a personal device for work, this means that they’re probably using it when the working day ends, too. Unfortunately, this means they’re less likely to stick to security best practices.
After all, you probably don’t apply the same caution when using your own laptop in your leisure time as you do when using a device at work. But because that personal device is also being used for work, this carries the risk of exposing confidential company data. So, it’s extra important to set clear security expectations for employees who are working on their own devices.
4. Shadow IT
Using a personal device for work as part of a BYOD policy is one thing but doing it entirely without the IT department’s knowledge is another thing entirely. This is where the risks of BYOD meet that creepily named phenomenon, shadow IT.
If employees are using personal devices for work without notifying IT, it creates invisible risks that the IT department can’t address because they don’t know about them. It also increases the attack surface of the organization, making it more susceptible to things like data leaks.
Another major security risk of BYOD devices – especially smartphones – is that they are more vulnerable to being infected with malware than other devices. Worryingly, this can often happen without users even noticing. It’s pretty common for smartphone users to inadvertently download malicious software to their devices, which could enable attackers to steal data or even uninstall security programs.
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