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Hackernoon logoHow to Write a Good BYOD Security Policy by@Keith Coppersmith

How to Write a Good BYOD Security Policy

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@Keith CoppersmithKeith Coppersmith

Like its name says, Bring Your Own Device or BYOD, is the practice of letting employees use their own devices at work. Many businesses have already started implementing BYOD policies because they offer greater flexibility and improve employees’ productivity. 

However, BYOD also comes with multiple risks, including:

  • Communicating on unsafe devices
  • Loss or theft of devices
  • Data loss
  • Cybersecurity threats

To prevent and mitigate those risks and keep your sensitive data safe, you will first need to build a solid BYOD security policy. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Use MDM Software

If you want your employees to focus on work-related activities when using their own devices and yet, you don’t want to limit their personal freedoms, then investing in mobile device management (MDM) software is the right option for you. There are many MDM tools that may help you here, including:

  • VMware AirWatch
  • SOTI MobiControl
  • IBM MaaS360
  • Microsoft Intune
  • Citrix XenMobile

MDM is security software that helps your IT staff monitor, manage, and protect your employees’ mobile devices. It is particularly important if your employees are bringing their own devices to work, meaning they are using different mobile service providers and operating systems. With the help of MDM tools and services, you support your corporate applications and tools on employees’ private mobile devices and ensure their utmost security.

Specify what Devices are Allowed

Today, there are many wearable devices your employees are using every day. Precisely because of that, you need to make a detailed list of all devices, models, and operating systems employees can use at work. The devices that are not on the list should not be allowed to connect to the network.

Above all, an employee should know what to do before they start bringing their devices to work. For example, before they even access the company’s network from their personal device, they should send it to the IT team that would configure standard applications, such as browsers and security tools. If there are any connectivity problems, staff members should know who to consult and how to report the problem. 

Control what Apps are Installed

Not all applications are appropriate for work. To mitigate any legal issues or prevent your employees from wasting time on activities that are not related to work, you need to start controlling what your employees install on their devices. For starters, you need to make a list of approved software. Employees should be prevented from downloading, installing, or using the apps that are not on the list. 

Now, there are many ways to control application installation. For example, you can configure both iOS and Android devices to block the installation of inappropriate content or deny access to the App Store and Google Play Store. Using mobile device management platforms like VMware and AirWatch may also help you, as they let you enforce policies on employees’ devices.

The only problem with this approach lies in the fact that this may often be considered an infringement on your employees’ rights and freedoms. For many employers, it is far easier to choose a reliable telecommunications provider and choose the right mobile phone plans for your teams. 

Encourage Employees to Use Stronger Passwords

Most employees still don’t understand the importance of passwords. Before you allow them to use their own devices for professional purposes, you first need to make passwords an important aspect of your BYOD policy. 

For starters, make passwords compulsory on employees’ personal devices. Second, teach employees about the importance of strong passwords. Explain why their pets’ names or kids’ dates of birth don’t cut it anymore. Teach them how to create strong passwords that don’t include their private data. It is important to combine letters and numbers and ensure the passwords are hard to crack. Above all, if they find it difficult to memorize such passwords, make sure you provide them with a list of reliable password management tools to use.

Perform Regular Backups

Data backups make your company’s data safe, irrespective of the device used. Namely, when backing your data up regularly, you will ensure that the data is backed up faster and more efficiently, even if the employee’s device has been lost or stolen. 

Data backups can be done both online and offline. What option you will choose depends on your specific business needs. According to some recent statistics, 84% of companies choose to combine online and offline backups. 

Encrypt Data

Encryption is critical for data security, especially for businesses implementing BYOD policies. When using device encryption, you ensure that any data that is stored locally on an employee’s device is encrypted. Therefore, even if someone steals a device or infects it with malware, they won’t be able to extract and use the data easily. Modern mobile devices are encrypted by default, while Windows uses Microsoft’s BitLocker. There are also many third-party tools like VeraCrypt or AxCrypt.

Make It Clear Who Owns Data and Devices

Like I have mentioned above, businesses implementing the BYOD policy are a greater risk of device theft and data security. So, ask yourself the following question. “What would happen if an employee’s device were lost or stolen?” In this case, you would need to wipe the content from the device, including your employees’ personal music, apps, photos, and similar files. Your employees should be aware of that. This is why your BYOD policy should highlight that you have the right to wipe their personal devices that are connected to your company’s network. Moreover, it should provide tips on how employees should back their personal data up so they can restore it later.

Have an Employee Exit Strategy

What happens when an employee that has a device on your BYOD policy leaves the company? When providing an employee with a corporate-issued tablet or smartphone, things are easier. They just need to delete their personal data and give the phone back. On the other hand, if you are building a BYOD policy, you will also need to establish a solid employee exit strategy that explains what exactly an employee should do before leaving your company. For example, they could give a device to the IT team to review it and delete any sensitive data. 

Over to You

BYOD is only successful if all parties benefit from it. By allowing employees to bring their own devices to work, companies will boost their morale and reduce the overall IT costs. On the other hand, employees need to be aware of the risks of using their personal devices for work purposes and know how to act responsibly. This is exactly why writing a solid BYOD security policy is important, as it will guide them and ensure greater workplace satisfaction, security, and productivity.

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