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Do you allow BYOD at your workplace?

Do your SMB employees connect their personal devices to your wireless? Do you have policies implemented for bring-your-own-device (BYOD)? Do you let them browse whatever websites they want? Do they have full access to your business wireless?

If you gave out your wireless password to one of your employees, more than likely all of them have it. That most likely means a large number of devices have uncontrolled access to your network. Do you know what apps are installed? Do they have passwords? Are they rooted or jailbroken? Do they have antivirus and malware protection installed?

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BYOD Security Risks

BYOD or “bring your own device” can mean a few different things. Sometimes it simply means allowing your employees access to your wireless with their personal devices (phone, tablet, laptop, etc). Sometimes it involves allowing the users direct access to your mail server or file sharing services. In any case, it presents a number of potential security threats that you may not even be aware of.

  • The devices may not be locked down with password protection. Anyone can pick up the device and gain access to your network or worse, your sensitive business email or data.
  • The devices may be “rooted” or “jailbroken” which could allow malicious software onto the devices and your network. This means a device with software looking to steal your data can be already lurking in your network and it could be on someones phone, not just their laptop.
  • The devices may not have up to date virus and malware protection. This can also provide a path for malicious software to be inside your network.
  • The devices may not be encrypted. If a device is stolen, data can be retrieved from a unencrypted device. This data could include passwords and access to VPNs.

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BYOD Advantages

BYOD can provide some benefits to the workplace so sometimes it is worth putting the security and effort in to allow devices in your workplace.

  • Allowing your workers access to free wireless internet can make the workers more happy and thus more productive.
  • Allowing your workers to access company email and information via their personal device can enhance productivity. Not only will they be using a device and software that they are comfortable with, they will also have access to this information from outside the office.
  • Allowing BYOD could also save you money. You may not need to purchase a new laptop, tablet or phone for they new employee if they bring their own.

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BYOD Disadvantages

BYOD also has some disadvantages that you must consider before investing the time and money to allow them into your workplace.

  • Your IT resource will have to manage the devices. Beyond the obvious cost, employees may be concerned with their personal privacy.
  • Your IT resource will need to stay up to date with devices, wireless and network security.
  • You may incur more licensing fees for each device that is attached to the system.
  • There is a chance your staff will be using the devices for personal use during work hours.

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BYOD Solutions

There are multiple ways that BYOD can be configured in your environment. If you don’t want to bother with the more advanced issues, I strongly recommend implementing security guest/employee wireless that doesn’t have access to you main network. If possible, this guest network should be throttled to make sure they don’t use all of you business internet bandwidth. There are some cost-effective ways that this can be done.

To tackle the more advanced issues, you need to come up with a BYOD policy and enforce it. This will help determine what type of hardware and software you need to control your BYOD environment. This doesn’t always mean you have to spend boatloads of money. There are ways to be secure and productive without breaking the bank.