Learn what is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) ?

Bring your own device or BYOD is a revolutionary innovation in networking and is here to stay. It can broadly be defined as a model that provides end-users with device-independence. Due to the increased use of smartphones and mobile devices, organizations have inevitably implemented the BYOD concept in their networking strategies. According to Forbes, the BYOD market is set to reach nearly $367 billion by 2022, up from a mere $30 billion in 2014. It will continue to be adopted by employers compelled by the potential benefits, as well as employees keen to enjoy greater flexibility. In short, BYOD is here to stay. Interestingly, small- and medium-sized businesses are taking advantage of this growing trend. In 2013, 62% of small- and medium-sized businesses had an official BYOD policy in place, as reported by iGR.

BYOD Rewards and Challenges

The transition to BYOD has several benefits. First off, implementing BYOD can increase productivity among employees. Tech-savvy employees usually feel frustrated with outdated laptops and desktops because of lengthy loading times and common malfunctions. Allowing such employees to use their own up-to-date, cutting-edge devices can boost innovation and productivity.

Secondly, BYOD can increase employee satisfaction. Your staff have personally invested in the devices. They would prefer to use their own devices as opposed to what the IT department provides. BYOD gives employees more autonomy and flexibility, thereby increasing satisfaction.

Thirdly, organizations save costs when they implement BYOD. Leveraging BYOD can help you eliminate expenses in three aspects: hardware, telecommunications, and support and training. According to Cisco, organizations can save up to US$3,150 per employee per year when they implement BYOD.

Lastly, BYOD increases workforce mobility. BYOD allows employees to flexibly use a variety of devices that satisfies their work and personal needs. With employees accessing corporate data anywhere, anytime, they can normally work from any location, just as they would while in an office.

Along with the benefits come the risks. The versatility of BYOD models and operating systems makes it more difficult for IT staff to manage each device with a comprehensive policy. Most of the time, the employee owns and maintains the device, and the company has less control over it than if it were company-owned.

1. Data management issues

Besides the vast volumes of data that BYODs store, it is not easy to distinguish between corporate and personal data. This increases chances of cyber-attacks since IT admins have little or no control over this data.

2. Data compliance issues

Strict enforcement of laws regarding how data gets accessed, used, or disseminated is mandatory in some industries like banks and healthcare. With BYOD, there are high chances that employees might share data on their devices with other people outside the organization. This makes compliance difficult to enforce.

3. Malicious apps

When employees download malicious apps on their mobile devices, they present outsiders’ unauthorized access to critical corporate data. It is a headache to impose security software and add updates and patches on these devices since IT admins have no control over the devices.

4. Lost or stolen devices

Owing to their small form and also because users always carry them around, mobile devices can easily get lost. When devices that registered in a BYOD network are lost or stolen, sensitive corporate data can fall into the hands of an outsider.

5. Fired employees

While BYOD enforces workforce mobility, it also presents challenges in instances where an employee gets fired or is disappointed with the organization. Without a sound policy in place, a disenchanted employee, can easily leak an organization’s data to rival companies.

6. Hacking issues

Protecting smartphones from hacking attacks is a big challenge for organizations. With password-cracking software available for download on the internet, anyone can purchase a password-hacking tool and hack mobile devices.

1. Data Management Issues

The past few years have seen a rapid implementation of both BYOD and cloud networks in organizations of all sizes. With mobile and cloud data storage solutions, it has become challenging to manage and track data. New devices come with large storage capacities and have the ability to connect instantly to the internet and social networks. Vast volumes of data – over which organizations have little control – are stored on these devices. It is not easy to distinguish between work data and personal data. Organizations that do not have the infrastructure to monitor data transfer rely on third-party solutions to do so.

2. Data Compliance Issues

With the increased incidents of identity theft and phishing scams everywhere, government authorities have come up with strict regulations for data management. The UK Data Protection Act of 1998 is an example. This Act regulates data collection and storage. While there is no such law in the United States, organizations have to be compliant with other regulations, such as the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). Those are related to credit card transactions, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which offers privacy protection for personal health. When these data are stored and managed on an employee-owned device, complexity increases.

3. Malicious Apps

User-owned devices are vulnerable to malware and malicious apps, which is why some have labeled the phenomenon BYOM (Bring Your Own Malware). According to Lookout, Google Store contained 32 apps that were infected with a malicious program called BadNews. Interestingly, these apps were downloaded 9 million times in 2013. Bit9 reports that 100,000 apps on the Android store are suspicious. Today, hackers are finding innovative ways to access information on a device. According to researchers at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), hackers even use music to trigger mobile malware in a device.

Another concern for businesses is unauthorized access to corporate data via mobile apps. When employees download malicious apps on their mobile phones, they present outsiders’ unauthorized access to critical corporate data. It is a headache to impose security software and add updates and patches on these devices. Employees can easily uninstall the software if they feel that these apps are impacting device performance and degrading the end-user experience.

4. Lost or Stolen Devices

Owing to their small form and also because they are always carried around by users, mobile devices can easily be lost.

According to IDG research, more than 3 million handsets were stolen in 2013. Out of these devices, 44% were left in a public place. The BBC reports that 314 mobile devices are stolen in London every day. When devices that are registered in a BYOD network are lost or stolen, sensitive corporate data can fall into the hands of an outsider.

5. Fired Employees

Another way in which corporate data become compromised is through disappointed or fired employees. Employees can retain a certain amount of data even after they leave an organization. Typically, a fired employee does not inform the HR department about data residing on his smartphone, and this information can easily be leaked to a rival organization. Companies should have a written BYOD policy ensuring that employees do not retain data owned by the company when they leave an organization.

6. Hacking Issues

Protecting smartphones from hacking attacks is a big challenge for organizations. According to CBS News, smartphones have recently become the prime targets for hackers. With password-cracking software available for download on the internet, anyone can purchase a password-hacking tool and hack mobile devices. When a device is hacked, it can be used to connect to a corporate network to access business-critical information.

How Can You Secure Your BYOD Environment?

Firstly, organizations should not implement a BYOD policy unless they are fully prepared to handle it. By weighing drawbacks and benefits along with compliance issues, organizations can prepare a written BYOD policy that addresses BYOD security issues comprehensively. It should include compliance aspects, such as:

Business data and personal data have to be differentiated, and access to corporate data must be privilege-based.

Most importantly, employees need to be educated about their responsibilities and instructed on safe practices for smartphone use within corporate networks. Without proper co-operation from employees, it is not easy to manage a BYOD environment. By performing an audit on access to personal data and the types of devices used, organizations can add an extra layer of security.

Secondly, the BYOD policy should provide precise password specifications for employees. The password should have a minimum length and should be locked after a time-lapse. Based on the number of specified failed password attempts, the device should be reset to factory settings. It should be possible to lock the device remotely, change password, or wipe off its entire content with ease.

Thirdly, businesses need a comprehensive mobile device management suite. With an array of versatile mobile devices, hybrid networks, and multiple business procedures, it is not easy for businesses to manually manage and monitor every device within the network. A powerful mobile device management (MDM) solution provides a centralized dashboard to manage and monitor the entire range of devices effectively.

Remotely Control Devices

With a comprehensive MDM solution, you can remotely monitor and manage files on your device from any browser. It is effortless to drag and drop files between a device and your browser. From a centralized location, you can remotely edit contacts and take control of the device’s camera. When a device is stolen, you can use the device camera to take a picture of the thief, and submit it to the relevant authorities before remotely wiping the data from the device.

Mobile Security

In a BYOD environment, it is vital to have a strong password policy. However, it is a tedious task to enforce this policy on multiple devices manually. With an MDM application, you can automatically apply password policies on multiple devices, saving time. You can enforce password specifications such as the length of the password, as well as the number of failed attempts and time-lapse before auto-lock. When a device is lost or stolen, the password can be changed remotely, data and settings can be remotely wiped off, and the device can be reset to factory settings. The device can be controlled even through an SMS.

MDM solutions allow you to remotely monitor apps installed on any device, and easily remove malicious apps. With an app whitelist, you can allow specific apps to be installed on a device. You can create a blacklist of apps for the entire organization or a specific group of employees. When a blacklisted app is installed, IT administrators and the user are immediately notified; an instant alert is generated along with the details of the devices involved.

Find & Track Devices

With a comprehensive MDM solution, the location of each device can be tracked, and a complete location history created. While this feature facilitates staff routing and improves customer service, it also allows businesses to keep track of device location and be in compliance with government regulations. Location history can be enabled for a group, department, or role, and the periods during which records should be logged can be specified as well.

Easy Management

The mix of BYOD and cloud networks creates a high level of complexity for IT staff. However, utilizing a centralized dashboard, an MDM solution makes it easy to manage thousands of mobile devices. By grouping devices, according to a department, role or job function, security settings can be customized according to group policies. WiFi network settings can be easily deployed to multiple devices. Device and SIM card details can be stored. Utilizing the MDM application, email settings can be remotely configured.

What is a BYOD Policy?

These questions should be addressed in a well-thought-out BYOD policy. A BYOD policy is basically a clearly defined set of rules that cover what are and aren’t allowed in your BYOD program.

At the minimum, your BYOD policy should specify:

These are just a few of the many rules that should go into your BYOD policy.

How Parallels streamlines BYOD

Drafting a strict BYOD policy is just part of the solution. It’s equally important to make sure your IT admins and end users can easily implement/adhere to them. Parallels RAS can be a big help in that regard.

Parallels RAS is an all-in-one application delivery and VDI solution that delivers applications and virtual desktops to any device, including iPhones, Androids, Chromebooks, and just about any mobile device out there. As it eliminates the complexity of delivering apps to disparate device platforms, Parallels RAS is perfect for BYOD initiatives.

In addition to its versatility in application and desktop delivery, Parallels RAS is also equipped with several security features that make it easy for IT admins and employees to implement and follow strict BYOD policies.

Some of these security features include:

Rolling out BYOD is easy with Parallels RAS. See for yourself. Try a FREE 30-day evaluation of Parallels RAS now.

Download your 30-day evaluation period of Parallels RAS today and implement or strengthen the BYOD scheme of your organization!


Inc.com | BYOD/BYOA: A Growing, Applicable Trend | inc.com

Us Logicals | BYOD: an emerging market trend in more ways than one | us.logicalis.com 

Business Insider | People Are Willing To Go To Extreme Lengths To Retrieve Their Stolen Smartphones | Business Insider

BBC | 314 mobile phones’ stolen in London every day’ | bbc.com

Wikipedia | Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard | wikipedia.org

Blogs Cisco | BYOD: Many Call It Bring Your Own Malware (BYOM) | blogs.cisco.com

Foxbusiness| BYOD Security: 5 Risk Prevention Strategies | smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com

Forbes | https://www.forbes.com

CIO.com | https://www.cio.com

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