The bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon has increasingly become popular in recent years due to significant benefits, such as enhanced productivity and flexibility for businesses and employees. However, despite these potential benefits, the BYOD trend does come with some risks to be aware of.
When not wholly understood, BYOD can threaten the very foundations of enterprise IT security and jeopardize the company’s IT systems. In this post, we’ll explore what BYOD is, the benefits it offers, and how to address the security challenges that it poses.
What Is BYOD?
BYOD is an evolving practice where organizations allow employees to use their personal devices for work-related activities. Companies that leverage BYOD usually allow employees to use their own laptops and smartphones at the workplace rather than strictly requiring them to use company-owned and IT-managed devices.
For this practice to work effectively, IT teams must craft policies that address BYOD security concerns, such as the type of devices employees can use for work-related activities and the ownership of data on the endpoint. In some cases, IT teams may require employees to install specific security applications on their endpoints.
For example, IT teams may install an application that wipes the corporate data if it detects any potential tampering. While an effective BYOD policy is necessary to safeguard corporate resources, some employees may not want to participate in it. This is especially true if the mobile device management (MDM) policy gives IT teams remote access to employees’ devices.
Other companies may also require that specific applications be blacklisted on the mobile device. Under such settings, employees may prefer to have one device for work and other devices for personal use to create a distinct break between their office and home lives.
What Are the Benefits of BYOD?
Businesses and employees can derive significant benefits from BYOD. Let’s explore some of these benefits.
BYOD Benefits for Businesses
A well-executed and controlled BYOD environment allows the organization to:
1. Cut down on IT spending
Since employees use their preferred devices at the workplace, organizations no longer need to purchase the hardware. Also, companies don’t need to train their employees to use their personal devices.
2. Improve efficiency and productivity
There is a positive correlation between the convenience that employees derive from their personal devices and productivity. By using their preferred devices, employees get comfortable mastering their use, potentially enhancing productivity. Also, these devices are usually equipped with the latest technology that employees can leverage at their workplaces to drive productivity.
3. Raise employee satisfaction
BYOD can decrease the number of frustrations associated with using unfamiliar technology. As such, employees are more comfortable in their work environments and can work from any location and at any time. This tends to raise their satisfaction levels.
BYOD Benefits for Employees
Like businesses, employees can also derive significant benefits from BYOD, such as:
BYOD allows employees to have all the applications and data on one device. They can also seamlessly navigate from one tab to another, check personal emails, and attend meetings, all from the same device. This allows them to save a lot of effort that they would otherwise spend juggling between corporate-owned and personal devices.
2. Access to new devices and cutting-edge technology
Employees generally get attached to their mobile devices and are more likely to update them regularly. They may also buy smart devices with the latest technology whenever available. For example, an employee with Microsoft’s Surface Pro can use that device’s cutting-edge technology for personal use and work-related activities.
3. More customization
BYOD allows employees to modify and even design the devices they own. For example, they can customize their laptop’s interior and exterior according to their liking or upgrade the hardware, potentially enhancing their experiences and productivity.
What Risks Are Associated With BYOD?
If the organization decides to let employees use their preferred devices for work, you should prepare for the risks detailed below.
Onboarding personal devices
IT teams can spend countless hours on error-prone and time-consuming manual processes without an onboarding automation strategy when adding new devices to IT infrastructure. And with staff turnover increasing in virtually all companies, a manual onboarding process has negative impacts on efficiency and security.
Managing heterogeneous operating systems (OSs)
BYOD environments are inherently heterogeneous, consisting of multiple device types and OSs like Android or iOS. This tends to conflict with legacy solutions in the organization and complicates their management.
Employees frequently download various types of files and applications on their devices. This can increase the chances of them downloading malware that could spread to the entire enterprise network when they log in from the infected machine.
Without an effective BYOD policy, it’s likely that some of the applications that employees use may not meet stringent security requirements. If an employee’s account is hacked, it could expose the company’s confidential data.
Lost or stolen devices
If an employee’s mobile device goes missing or is stolen, the best-case scenario is that it becomes an inconvenience to the user. In a worst-case scenario, hackers could easily use the device to compromise corporate accounts and data.
Improper device management
Without an effective identity management solution, employees can continue accessing business applications from their mobile endpoints even after leaving the organization. Disgruntled employees can exploit this loophole to compromise the security of the organization.
How To Manage BYOD
Despite the risks, BYOD is here to stay. For effective BYOD management, IT teams should make provisions that clearly define the process of onboarding devices and ensure that all the devices have the required policies.
IT teams should also ensure that their BYOD policies capture all the enterprise mobility aspects, such as managing OS updates and de-provisioning devices when the employee leaves the company.
You need effective MDM software in the BYOD workplace to achieve these functions. Such a solution should tightly integrate identity and access management (IAM) and mobility for users while ensuring seamless access across all the endpoints.
Using MDM software can help you streamline user access and keep data on the devices safe. An MDM application can also help you track all the devices from a single console.
BYOD Employee Rights
An important concern raised by IT-managed, employee-owned devices is an employee’s right to privacy. The regulatory landscape around personal privacy continues to evolve, and an effective BYOD policy should protect not only corporate data, but the privacy of employee data as well.
When implementing formal BYOD practices for employee’s devices, it’s important for IT admins to clearly communicate what is being monitored, and to ensure the extent of this access aligns with privacy laws in their region.
Even if there are no applicable privacy regulations, companies should still remain thoughtful of employee data protection. Maintaining employee trust is a key part of successful BYOD implementation. One cybersecurity report found that BYOD adoption would increase by 48% if employees were sure that IT could not view or alter personal data or apps.
What Does the Future Hold for BYOD?
The BYOD trend will continue to grow among businesses and employees. According to Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the global market size for enterprise mobility and BYOD will rise from US$ 84.4 billion in 2022 to US$ 157.3 billion by 2026. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 16.7% over the analysis period.
GIA notes that this paradigm shift from the traditional office model to the BYOD trend is largely attributed to the growing demands for adaptability. Besides adaptability, many employees — especially millennials — prefer flexible working styles that embrace mobility.
However, successful implementation of BYOD largely depends on how IT teams implement policies that streamline the process for employees. A cloud directory platform like JumpCloud combines identity and access management with security to make remote work and hybrid workplace setups as smooth as the traditional in-office experience.
The JumpCloud Directory Platform is an OS-agnostic IT management platform that admins can leverage to address BYOD risks. In addition to files, networks, and servers, IT teams can also control all employee devices and manage access privileges based on user groups from a single console.
Do you want to secure your BYOD infrastructure? Learn more about JumpCloud’s MDM solution to simplify BYOD management and security.