Bring your own device: A smart business solution or big security risk?

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06 Nov 2022

Bring your own device: A smart business solution or big security risk?

Wondering if your business could benefit from letting employees use personal devices for work? More and more companies are getting involved, so much so that they’ve been coined as BYOD (bring your own device) organisations – and they’re shaking up traditional ways of working. 

If you’re looking to expand your team and aren’t sure whether to invest in company technology or let employees use their own, we've laid out the risks of BYOD and how you can avoid them if you decide to take this approach.  

Are there any benefits of BYOD?

You might be asking yourself why businesses would adopt BYOD at all. Well, it has its perks, like reducing costs of equipment and training, as employees work with technology they know well. There could also be a link to increased productivity as 75% of millennials in a PWC survey believe access to their own technology makes them more effective at work.

What are the risks?

To start, employees using different operating systems (like Apple and Windows) could lead to synchronicity problems, such as experiencing trouble sharing files. Using personal computers or phones for work can also have a serious impact on work-life balance, as it’s difficult to step away at the end of the working day.  

The biggest issue businesses need to consider is security. Humans are the weakest link when it comes to a business’ online defences. This means for hackers, we're the first place they look to when launching a cyber security attack. With antivirus and other defence software difficult to regulate on a personal device, your business’ information might be at higher risk. What’s more, as a business owner, you have zero control over where and when personal devices are used. So, if an employee leaves or loses their device, corporate data could be exploited and GDPR laws could be broken.  

The danger could be much bigger than you’d think though. By downloading material like PDFs or software laced with ‘malware’ (software designed to damage or gain unauthorised access), employees could expose your entire business network to cyberattacks. How? By the simple act of logging in from an infected device.   

How to make BYOD safe for your business

Of course, this doesn’t mean all businesses with a bring-your-own-device approach have to suffer these risks. There are solutions you can implement to protect your systems and data. It starts with using smart tech and establishing a protocol for employees to follow. You should pull together a cybersecurity policy for all employees to sign as a condition of employment. Here are some things you could include in your policy: 

Employee education

As we mentioned, people are the easiest route to successfully pulling off a cybercrime. That’s why it’s so important that anyone using personal devices within your business is aware of the risks. Invest in cybersecurity training, so your team can learn to recognise threats and take the right action if they encounter an attack.  

Using cloud

Moving your business’ data to a cloud provider is a great way to keep your information safe. This means everything is stored in the cloud, instead of on devices – whether personal or professional – and users have to log in securely to gain access. Within the cloud, you can also set up safety measures like strong passwords and two-factor authentication, to make access even more difficult for hackers. There are lots of cloud providers to choose from – such as Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services – and different levels of service they can offer, so it’s worth weighing up the options before investing.  

Antivirus software 

This can be tricky to impose on a personal device, but we recommend including it in your business’ cybersecurity policy, so employees have a consistent, trusted security barrier on all devices. Used right, and supported by cybersecurity training, cyberattacks can be stopped before they even become a problem.  

Is it worth it?

The security risks of letting employees use personal devices should be taken seriously – but with the right safety measures in place, you can minimise them, reduce company costs, and potentially boost productivity. If you decide to supply corporate devices instead of BYOD, we still suggest taking all the above measures. After all, with cyberattacks on the rise, you can never be too safe, regardless of who owns the device.

Secure your business from a host of cyber threats with Vodafone's security solutions for businesses of all sizes.

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