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Spring Cleaning Checklist for Keeping Your Devices Safe at Work

Implement zero-trust policies for greater control, use BYOD management tools, and take proactive steps such as keeping apps current and training staff to keep sensitive company data safe and employees' devices secure.

Mobile workers are productive and often essential to a business's success, but it puts an immense amount of pressure on IT to protect the company's corporate apps and data while maintaining worker privacy.

Bring your own device, also known as BYOD, challenges corporate security protocols and IT staff to protect their intellectual property and keep hackers at bay.

BYOD Security Risks
When the pandemic first hit, organizations were forced to shift from mainly supporting corporate-owned, fully managed devices to supporting personal devices used for work purposes. This abrupt move to remote work forced companies to quickly shift their networking and security capabilities, creating a large amount of risk to their organization. Without proper security measures in place, these unmanaged BYOD devices grant employees access to company resources and sensitive data, which poses a potential risk for sensitive data to be leaked, inadvertently or on purpose.

With over 58% of employees saying their use of personal devices for work purposes increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, shortcuts were destined to be taken with the quick shift to remote work and BYOD. We saw IT teams prioritizing and investing in network access capabilities rather than remote security. With 84% of survey respondents saying they didn't invest in data protection, it's doubtful their security measures increased during the duration of the pandemic. As employees start to return to the office and regain access to even more company resources and sensitive data, their use of BYOD at work could expose their company to new risks.

Here's a spring-cleaning checklist to keep your employee's devices secure for their return to office and beyond:

Step 1: Improve your BYOD security policy. If you don't have a BYOD security policy, create one now! For the 39% of organizations that have a formal policy in place, ask yourself if your company's BYOD security policy is restrictive or too vague and adjust as needed. Consider employee's privacy and productivity concerns when making improvements to the policy.

Step 2: Implement zero-trust security. With 72% of organizations around the world that have either adopted or are in the process of planning or adopting zero trust, it has become the new business standard for reliable security in our "work-from-anywhere" world. Whether you're working in the office, checking your email in the airport, or working from home, zero-trust security expands beyond a company's security perimeter. Zero trust prescribes that every resource — including devices — must be assessed for potential risks or policy violations before gaining access to corporate data, giving greater control over a BYOD environment.

Step 3: Make use of BYOD management tools. It's difficult for companies to manage a fleet of devices across multiple departmental disciplines and mobile device management (MDM) software can help make it simple and easy. Various core functions of MDM ensure that devices are remotely available for auditing, update over the air, that software runs effectively, and devices are available for remote diagnosis and troubleshooting. According to Markets and Markets, the MDM market is anticipated to grow to $15.7 billion by 2025.

Step 4: Keep your apps and their components up to date. Each day, hundreds of vulnerabilities are discovered in the mobile and web space, and patches are released regularly. Developers should incorporate these patches in their applications and encourage their users to regularly update their app and their operating systems. This ensures that hackers who try to exploit these known vulnerabilities will be unsuccessful.

Step 5: Empower employees with information. According to Trustlook, more than 50% of employees haven't received formal instructions for how to safely use BYOD in the workplace. One of the biggest things companies can do to make sure BYOD devices are secure is empowering employees with information to understand how their devices can be risky to the company's data and create vulnerabilities. Without understanding the cause and effect of BYOD devices to the company, employees won't value a BYOD security policy.

Step 6: Mitigate future mobile application security issues. Don't let the wrong mobile security strategy result in customer data being stolen or misused by a cyber scam. Encourage your employees to scan all their mobile apps whether they're for personal or business use.

Choosing Your Path
Large organizations with distributed and often multinational operations need to ensure employees use the latest technologies without putting corporate data and intellectual property at risk. Hybrid and remote work are here to stay, and the demand for BYOD will continue to increase. Determine which security tools and strategies are right for your organization and start implementing them before they cost you in the long run.