Many enterprises now allow users to access corporate resources via their personal mobile devices. According to a global survey of CIOs by Gartner, nearly 40 percent of companies by 2016 will require employees to provide their own mobile products.
While BYOD reduces organizational cost for providing dedicated devices to each employee and provides flexibility and choice to the employees, it also introduces obvious security risks to the organization, such as unsecured devices accessing and storing business information. It also means additional overhead for IT in order to manage multiple devices with a variety of platforms and configurations to ensure compliance.
A large number of vendors offer enterprise class tools for managing BYOD users. But just adopting any relevant tool doesn't solve the security problem: organizations also need to formulate solid policies for the use of personal devices and ensure these policies are executed properly.
Here are some best practices for preparing BYOD policies for your organization:
Determine organizational requirements: While adopting BYOD, consider work culture in the organization, habits of mobile users, and even the applicable laws to address legal issues. Think about the scenarios where the users prefer to access corporate data on personal devices, and common habits of users when accessing sensitive data. For instance, a sales manager might prefer to take down the orders on a tablet instead of carrying a laptop. Identifying these types of organizational requirements or restrictions can help in building a standard structure for BYOD adoption in organizations.
Policies must be for all: Different user roles have different levels of access controls and permissions, which implies the proper guidelines and scope of access must be defined for each user role. It often happens that top management is simply not present on the list, and granted all the privileges. Policies to manage personal devices should be applied for all user roles -- even if they are granted superuser privileges, which also must be specifically called out in the policy document.
Policies that everyone agrees with: When formulating the policies, a consent or acknowledgment from all key departments could help avoid later conflicts. In case any specific department has any special requests or recommendations, those must be addressed appropriately.
Restricting mobile resources and applications: To protect the information saved on the mobile devices, the first layer of defense is data encryption or password-based access restrictions. Besides that, there are often several other ways through which information may be compromised from within the mobile device. Malicious applications may try to capture and steal information while the business applications are in use: for instance, they may be recording conversations while some meeting or conference is going on. For such scenarios, policies for restricting mobile resources like camera and microphone may be required.
Usage limits: There are often cases when organizations need to put some restrictions on the use of mobile devices. These may be in terms of limits for data access, or may be regarding use of any specific inappropriate site or application. Adding such restrictions into the policy document helps set the right expectations from the users.
Segregation of personal data: Personal devices are loaded with a lot of personal files, applications, messages, and other data. When such mobile devices are enrolled within organizational networks, administrators usually get complete access to the device. The policies for segregation of personal data residing on devices must be clearly defined and implemented to ensure user privacy.
Real-time compliance monitoring: Many Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools offers capabilities of performing real-time monitoring of the mobile devices when used in organizational premises. Such tools ensure that notifications are sent to the administrators as soon as some policies are void so that appropriate actions can be taken.
Information leakage due to lost/stolen devices: When any personal mobile device is stolen or lost, organizations often lose control over the device and the information stored on that device. To prevent information loss from these types of situations, be sure to have provisions of remote lock or remote wipe, which can be activated via some MDM tools, and define the policies accordingly.
Locate the device: Geo-location and geo-fencing based policies can help track remote employees and restrict their access to corporate information from outside some predefined geographical area.
Backing up corporate data: Regular and scheduled backup of the business information residing on mobile devices is also essential. In case of a device wipe due to it being lost or stolen, an employee’s work can be restored without losing any sensitive information.