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4 top BYOD security risk prevention tips

The BYOD trend is here to stay, with employers increasingly embracing its benefits, such as lower hardware costs, extended customer access to employees and staff satisfaction. According to industry analyst Gartner, by 2017 over half of all employers will require employees to use their own devices for work purposes.

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But despite growing acceptance of the BYOD phenomenon, serious security concerns remain, including the possibility of data falling into the wrong hands via lost or stolen devices or lax security practices on the part of the device owner. The key to preventing a security breach is to develop and implement sound policies. Here are some tips on creating an effective strategy.

1. Outline a formal acceptable use policy

The first step organizations can take to reduce BYOD risks is to create an acceptable use policy, often referred to as a mobile policy. The policy should provide rules and protocols that govern BYOD deployment companywide, setting standards for users. IT managers can take the lead by kicking off stakeholder discussions about BYOD rules now and into the future and designating a committee to promote and control mobile policy. It’s a good idea to require program participants to review the company’s mobile policy and acknowledge that they’ll abide by it via a signature.

2. Identify users and create program participant segments

A crucial step in developing the organizational policy is to define BYOD users and identify various categories of program participants. This exercise gives the mobile policy committee the opportunity to think about any device type restrictions that may be needed, application restrictions and content issues. It also provides an opportunity for committee members to think through the financial implications of establishing a formal BYOD program, including user stipends or business expense rules applicable to employee devices.

3. Select and deploy an enterprise mobility management platform

After the mobile policy is in place, committee members should assess their options and choose an enterprise mobility platform, keeping in mind their current technology and security needs and planning for future requirements. With technology evolving rapidly and employees choosing their own devices, it’s critical to think ahead and select a platform that can accommodate emerging technologies while keeping up with user demand and protecting corporate assets. The platform should feature strong network access controls.

4. Plan to provide support for user-owned devices

Some company policy-makers mistakenly believe that BYOD means they no longer need to provide device support. This is a mistake that can lead to security breaches and decrease employee job satisfaction.

Instead, companies should develop support protocols to manage all phases of BYOD, from device procurement and provisioning through decommissioning. By providing support and helping employees manage assets, technical professionals will gain valuable opportunities to ensure BYOD policies are followed, identify emerging vulnerabilities and help employees comply with safe practices.

From an enterprise IT perspective, BYOD is one of the most significant workforce technology trends ever. That means it’s absolutely essential to manage it proactively. By establishing a formal acceptable use policy, identifying policy decision-makers and user groups, selecting a management platform and providing ongoing support, IT professionals can maximize the benefits of BYOD and minimise the risks.

Image: Jeremy Keith via Flickr.

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