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BYOD Cybersecurity Best Practices in 2019

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a term that has become synonymous with a wave of transformation sweeping across today’s digitally-driven economy. The ability to work from anywhere using any device has transformed the way organizations leverage technology in the digital age. However, mobility may have unlocked the productivity potential in modern organizations, but it has come with its fair share of cybersecurity challenges.

Controlling access to data is complicated in a cloud-first mobile world. In the past, IT managed every device, and all data was stored on-premise behind a hard perimeter secured by a firewall. However, as organizations embraced cloud services and employees started using their personal devices to access enterprise systems, the traditional IT security model became obsolete.  With data now stored in the cloud and on-premise and IT no longer controlling every device that accesses the corporate network, organizations need to rethink their information security strategies.

Even though mobility has disrupted traditional IT, there is no question that its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages. Organizations need to find a solution that balances the need for security while still enabling employee productivity. BYOD may be an industry term to describe the mobile transformation organizations are experiencing, but it can also be a set of policies, processes, and technologies that enable a secure and productive mobile-driven environment.

Start with a Plan

Deploying a BYOD solution, like any other strategic technology implementation, requires careful and considered planning. Before an organization publishes its BYOD policy, it should conduct a security risk assessment. It also needs to examine its current mobility use cases to ensure it develops a BYOD strategy that aligns with its operating model. Without proper planning, a BYOD solution will not meet the unique requirements of their business. Finding the balance between security and usability is vital. It is therefore essential that organizations take the time to understand their mobility needs before embarking on their BYOD strategy.

Think Beyond Smartphones

Often organizations associate a BYOD policy with smartphones. However, an effective BYOD solution includes any unmanaged device. Any user-owned device should form part of the overall strategy. Tablets, laptops, smart watches, or any other technical equipment that is capable of accessing the organization’s network and data must form part of the enterprise’s BYOD solution.

Train Your Employees

The human element is the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. In the past, when IT controlled access to all data and managed every device, it was far easier to secure the organization’s technology environment. However, as IT no longer has this level of control and users have even more access to sensitive corporate data, providing staff with the appropriate cybersecurity awareness training is vital. As users will be interacting with their devices in uncontrolled and unsecure environments, they need to be hyper-vigilant of security threats such as Man-in-the-Middle attacks.

Stronger Authentication

User credentials that have access to corporate data are the keys to the digital kingdom. In a cloud first mobile world, where devices live outside the security provided by the corporate firewall, identity is the new perimeter. However, in this new technology paradigm, the traditional username and password combination is no longer enough to protect systems from unauthorized access. Hackers using automated tools take advantage of users that choose weak passwords or reuse the same one across multiple applications. Stronger authentication must, therefore, form part of any comprehensive BYOD strategy.

Organizations should consider implementing a cohesive Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution that manages user identities across multi-cloud environments and multiple devices. The IAM platform should also offer Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) functionality that requires a user to submit an additional verification factor with their password before granting them access. In this way, the organization can protect itself from automated password attacks.

Develop Policies and Procedures

As mentioned, an organization’s BYOD strategy should include the deployment of technology as well as the creation of accompanying procedures. These typically need to govern corporate IT’s level of support but should also include additional policies such as acceptable use and mandatory security settings. As with any other security-related system, the terms and conditions need to align with the unique requirements of the business. They also need to find a comfortable balance between the needs of the users and the security of the organization.

An Effective BYOD Strategy Requires a Planned Approach

A BYOD strategy is vital for any organization operating in today’s cloud-first mobile world. However, before organizations deploy any technology or publish any policies, it is essential that they do the appropriate planning. It is also crucial that they consider all forms of mobile devices, train their employees, consider implementing a centralized Identity and Access Management solution with stronger authentication, and develop policies and procedures that are relevant to the business.

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Sanjay Deo
Sanjay Deo

Sanjay Deo is the President and Founder of 24by7Security Inc. Sanjay holds a Master's degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M University, and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Healthcare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and PCI Qualified Security Assessor (QSA). Sanjay is also a co-chair on the CISO council and Technology Sector Chief at FBI InfraGard South Florida Chapter. In 2022 Sanjay was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the President of the United States. Subscribe to the 24by7Security blog to learn more from Sanjay.

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