BYOD Security

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies allow employees to use personal devices — including laptops, mobile devices, USB drives, and other systems — to do their job. This includes connecting these devices to corporate networks and resources and accessing sensitive data on these devices.

BYOD policies can provide significant benefits to an organization by allowing employees to work from the devices that they are most comfortable with. As a result, BYOD policies and usage in companies have trended up significantly in recent years. However, BYOD policies can also create endpoint security risks.

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BYOD Security Risks

BYOD policies can create significant security challenges for an organization. Some of the most significant include the following:

  • Weak Security: Corporate-owned devices — whether on-prem or off-site — may have endpoint security solutions installed and be protected and monitored by corporate network security solutions. BYOD systems may lack these protections, increasing their vulnerability to phishing and similar attacks.
  • Malware Infections: Personal devices may not be running antivirus, and employees may install malicious apps or other software on these devices. As a result, BYOD devices may be infected with malware that can access corporate data, networks, or resources.
  • Compromised Data: BYOD devices may be used to access or store sensitive and valuable corporate data. If these devices are compromised, this data may be leaked or lost due to a ransomware infection or a lost or stolen device.
  • Insecure Wi-Fi: Employees with BYOD devices likely connect them to public Wi-Fi and other insecure networks when working outside of the office. These public Wi-Fi networks can allow snooping on business traffic or make it easier to compromise these devices.
  • Out of Date Devices: People commonly delay installing updates to their mobile phones’ OS and applications. As a result, BYOD devices may be running out-of-date versions of software that contain unpatched and exploitable vulnerabilities.

The Need for BYOD Security

BYOD policies have increased dramatically in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic — and the resulting adoption of remote and hybrid work policies — was a major driver of this as companies worked to support a remote workforce. In the wake of the pandemic, many organizations saw benefits from these policies and maintained or expanded them. As a result, many companies allow access to corporate networks, resources, and data by devices that they don’t own and don’t control. This creates significant challenges for corporate cybersecurity and regulatory compliance.

BYOD security helps an organization maintain security and compliance. While BYOD devices may be outside an organization’s control, it can take steps to manage these devices and the risk that they pose to the organization.

Types of BYOD Security

An organization’s approach to BYOD security depends on the devices being secured. A company may have the ability to manage some devices, such as those owned by an organization’s employees, via contracts. Other devices, such as those owned by third-party users, are largely unmanaged and must be approached differently.

Managed Devices

While BYOD policies allow employees to work from personal devices, an organization can place some restrictions on their use. For example, an employee may need to sign a BYOD policy that requires compliance with corporate security policies.

These BYOD agreements can allow an organization to manage the security of these devices via a company-managed agent installed on the devices. This agent can monitor the state of the system for the installation of suspicious or malicious files or other risky actions. If violations of corporate policy are detected, the company can deny access to corporate networks and responses.

Unmanaged Devices

Third-party users — contractors, freelancers, outsourced R&D, etc. — and unmanaged devices pose greater challenges for BYOD security. In these cases, it may not be possible or appropriate for an organization to install an agent on the user’s devices.

In this case, an organization can implement BYOD security by restricting these users’ access to corporate resources. An agentless zero-trust network access (ZTNA) solution can strictly limit and monitor access to corporate resources by these devices, reducing the potential risk that the devices pose to an organization and its systems.

BYOD Security Best Practices

BYOD policies introduce unique security risks. Some best practices to help manage these risks include the following:

  • Establish a Centralized Solution: Companies should have a centralized solution for managing BYOD security. This helps ensure visibility and consistent policy enforcement across all third-party devices.
  • Vet Applications: Applications installed on BYOD laptops and mobile devices may contain malware. Vetting applications before allowing them to be installed on devices with access to corporate resources can reduce the risk that these devices pose to the organization.
  • Automate Your Security: Cybersecurity threats are more sophisticated than ever, and even the most savvy user can fall prey to these attacks. Security automation is essential to ensure that potential threats never reach the point where they place the user and the organization at risk.
  • Implement Zero Trust: Companies can’t fully eliminate the threat that BYOD devices pose to the organization. Restricting the access and permissions granted to these devices via zero-trust security controls can help to reduce this risk.

Check Point Solutions for BYOD Security

Check Point’s Harmony Suite offers solutions to help companies control both managed and unmanaged devices that have access to corporate systems under BYOD policies. When developing a BYOD strategy, a good starting point is implementing zero-trust remote access. Learn more in this guide. Then, check out this demo video to find out how to implement zero trust with Harmony Connect.

For managed endpoints, Check Point’s Harmony Endpoint can help protect against malware, account takeover attacks, and other threats. Learn more about using Harmony Endpoint for BYOD security with a free demo.

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