What does BYOD mean?
BYOD stands for “bring your own device.” It is a business policy where employers allow their employees to use personal devices (phones, laptops, tablets) to perform their work tasks and access company systems and data.
How does BYOD work?
BYOD is based on integrating personal devices into a company’s IT infrastructure. When you choose to use your personal device for work, you will usually have to go through a whole process to ensure efficient and safe operations. Here are some things it might include:
- Registering the device. Often, before being able to use your device, you will have to register it with the IT department. Having only registered devices accessing the company’s network helps your IT team ensure proper authorization and security practices.
- Using a VPN at work. You will likely need to connect to your company’s network every time you want to access internal data or resources. Connecting through a VPN will ensure that sensitive information remains secret even if you’re using public or unsecured hotspots.
- Using clouds for software access. Instead of installing multiple software packages on every device, many companies use cloud-based applications or virtual desktops. This allows you to access the tools you need online and reduces the need for extensive device storage.
- Ensuring device compliance. You might have to ensure your devices adhere to specific requirements. It might be things like having up-to-date antivirus software, firewalls, and other security software.
- Doing training. You will probably have to undergo multiple training sessions to ensure that you’re aware of the best practices, know how to recognize and handle potential threats, and who to contact in case of any issues.
What is the BYOD policy?
A BYOD policy is a set of guidelines and rules established by a company to regulate how its employees use personal devices for work. The policy is meant to ensure that the usage of personal devices won’t threaten the company’s security.
The policy will differ between companies, but here are some key components you might expect to see:
- Mandatory security measures, like encryption and regular software updates, that every device must adhere to before accessing the company’s network.
- Access control mechanisms that determine which data and systems you can access based on your role and the device you’re using.
- Device management guidelines that detail how the IT department can manage, monitor, or even remotely wipe a device if it’s lost or compromised.
- Software for managing the device’s usage that could prohibit you from installing specific apps or limit your personal browsing during work hours.
- Data ownership and privacy rules that clearly define what company data can be stored on your devices and how your personal data that you also keep there is protected.
Why is BYOD important?
BYOD policy has two main benefits: a reduced learning curve for the employee and significant savings for the company.
If you get to use your personal device from day one at your new job, you will likely be more comfortable with it. Having familiar software and hardware will allow you to minimize the time spent setting up and learning new tech, allowing you to immediately tackle your tasks.
From the company’s point of view, implementing the BYOD policy can lead to significant cost savings. Instead of investing heavily in buying and maintaining devices, businesses can allocate that money to other critical areas.
Additionally, the flexibility BYOD offers can enhance your job satisfaction. The ability to work on a preferred device, often from any location, can result in a better work-life balance.
What are the risks of BYOD
The primary concern when implementing the BYOD policy is security. Personal devices, when used for work, can become gateways for cyberattacks if they lack essential protection. And keeping personal and work data on the same device could lead to accidental data leaks when you inadvertently share your quarterly report instead of your vacation itinerary with the group chat.
The IT team might also end up under heavy strain, managing a bunch of devices that all have different operating systems, software versions, and hardware configurations. Ensuring compatibility and providing support could become very complex.
From an employee’s point of view, using your personal device for work means you have to bear the cost of buying and maintaining that device. There’s also the question of the extent to which your employer might monitor your actions or access the personal data you store on your laptop — even outside your working hours.
What are the BYOD access levels?
Not all BYOD policies are the same, and companies must decide which access level their BYOD policy will include. These levels are:
- No access. This is the most restrictive level, where personal devices are not allowed to connect to the company’s network or access any company resources. This might apply to all employees or just the external contractors or visitors.
- Access only for approved devices. Only registered and approved devices can access the company’s network and resources. Sometimes, separate devices can have special permissions to access specific sensitive or critical systems.
- Full access. The highest level of access, where employees can connect their personal devices to all company resources without any restrictions. This is usually reserved for executives or the IT team who need unrestricted access because of their jobs.
BYOD security solutions
Using personal devices in a corporate environment presents certain security challenges. Luckily, there are ways to minimize or avoid potential risks:
Mobile device management (MDM)
MDM allows companies to manage, monitor, and secure employees’ devices. It enables remote wiping, enforcing security policies, and ensuring that devices are updated with the latest security patches.
Mobile application management (MAM)
MAM is less intrusive than MDM, offering a more balanced approach that employees might enjoy more. It focuses on securing specific apps rather than the entire device and allows companies to control access to these apps and the data within them.
Containerization is the process of creating an encrypted space or “container” on the device where all work-related data and apps reside. It is favored by many employees because it clearly separates work and personal spaces. This way, you can be sure that your personal data remains private.
Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
VDI allows you to connect to a virtual computer from your personal device. All data processing and storage happen on centralized servers, minimizing the risk of data leaks and creating a consistent work environment across devices.
Virtual private network (VPN)
VPNs create a secure, encrypted internet connection, ensuring that data transmitted between the personal device and the company network is protected from eavesdroppers. High-quality business VPN solutions, like NordLayer, are fast, easy to use, and ensure your data is secure while in transit.