February 6, 2024

BYOD Security Risks: Anticipate Them and Beat Them

Forcepoint

Dramatic changes to our ways of working in the last few years have serious ramifications for security. Productivity-enhancing strategies such as “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies, which allow employees to access company resources with personal devices, have rendered traditional security practices obsolete and exposed organizations to new risks. But bridging the gap between security and productivity doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems.

Preparing for the risks and implementing the best practices of BYOD security are necessary if organizations want to keep data safe and employees happy. These BYOD security risks include:

  • Device infection
  • Device loss or theft
  • Shadow IT
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi access
  • Exposure of sensitive information
  • Disgruntled employees
  • Unauthorized access to sensitive data

Beyond exploring BYOD security risks, this article will examine risk mitigation techniques, benefits of BYOD policies and a solution for making them safe.

 

Major risks for BYOD workplaces

One of the greatest risks associated with BYOD is data loss. When employees use their personal devices to access company resources, there is a risk that sensitive data belonging to the organization could be exfiltrated or stolen. This could include customer data, financial information, trade secrets or other confidential information. Data loss is ultimately the outcome that organizations are fighting to avoid, but there are numerous types of risks that can lead to this result, including:

  • Device infection: Compromised personal devices can be used to access company data, potentially leading to a data breach that can disrupt operations and damage public trust.
  • Device loss or theft: BYOD devices can easily go missing during travel or simply daily life, causing sensitive data to vanish or fall into the wrong hands.
  • Shadow IT: Employees can download unsanctioned applications that can improperly access company data or introduce security vulnerabilities.
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi access: Employees may use personal devices in public places using unsecured networks, making them vulnerable to cyberattacks such as snooping.
  • Exposure of sensitive information: An employee might leave a laptop or phone unlocked in a public place, allowing bystanders to view restricted information.
  • Disgruntled employees: Personal devices can make it easier for employees with a grudge against the company to perform harmful actions, especially if their remote access is not promptly revoked upon termination.
  • Unauthorized access to sensitive data: Whether it’s a malicious actor stealing secrets or a toddler mashing buttons, personal devices expand the possibilities for the wrong people to access and/or distribute critical data.

 

Common methods for mitigating BYOD risks

Fortunately, there are techniques that allow organizations to mitigate the risks caused by BYOD devices in the workplace. These include:

  • Risk profiling: Organizations should conduct risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats. This process involves identifying the types of data that employees access, the devices they use and the security measures in place.
  • Encryption: Encrypting data at rest and in transit is one of the most important steps to protect against data exfiltration from unsecured connections.
  • Whitelisting and blacklisting: Organizations can pre-approve certain apps for employee use or forbid others that pose a security risk. The difficulty is that a lack of flexibility here can damage employee productivity or morale.
  • AI-assisted behavioral analysis: Some advanced solutions may provide the capability of monitoring user activity in real time and flagging risky behavior, allowing context-sensitive decisions about permissions levels.

Reap the benefits of BYOD with Forcepoint ONE CASB

BYOD policies introduce new security considerations, but their important advantages are recognized by more and more organizations worldwide:

  • Higher employee morale: BYOD policies make workers feel comfortable and respected, helping to reduce turnover and attract talented prospects. 
  • Lower hardware costs: Organizations often want employees to use secondary devices anyway for purposes like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and it’s cheaper to take advantage of personal devices instead of issuing every new employee a smartphone or tablet.
  • Ease of incorporating contractors and visitors: It becomes much more convenient to work with contract employees or to bring in outside consultants if you don't have to issue them hardware.
  • Increased productivity: BYOD policies allow employees to get work done at a variety of locations, at any time of day. This can lead to huge gains in productivity, as employees work at their own pace and get more done.

Forcepoint ONE CASB is a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) that provides devices with safe access to applications and data in the cloud. It simplifies security for BYOD by offering agentless deployment to protect both managed and unmanaged devices. Introducing a solution like this empowers organizations to realize the advantages of BYOD without exposing their sensitive data to potential loss, creating the ideal balance between security and productivity.

Beyond Forcepoint ONE CASB, we recently introduced a new product for our Enterprise DLP customers—DLP Cloud for Email. It brings our industry-leading policy management and email security capabilities to Gmail and other cloud email, and it also extends that same level of email security to BYOD devices. And it achieves both as an agentless solution.

 

Every organization has unique needs, and you’ll want to try out Forcepoint ONE CASB or DLP for Cloud Email to see how well either of them fits yours. Request your customized demo today to experience how it can modernize your security strategy.

Forcepoint

Forcepoint-authored blog posts are based on discussions with customers and additional research by our content teams.

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About Forcepoint

Forcepoint is the leading user and data protection cybersecurity company, entrusted to safeguard organizations while driving digital transformation and growth. Our solutions adapt in real-time to how people interact with data, providing secure access while enabling employees to create value.