BYOD considerations to prevent security threats

Just imagine, being able to use your smartphone at work or school!

The bring-your-own-device trend has both turned heads and caused headaches. BYOD allows employees to use their own devices for work purposes. Some schools have even adopted BYOD policies for students to enhance student motivation, but many organizations have productivity and security concerns for BYOD. After all, how do you go about securing a network with a bunch of devices that the organization doesn’t own?

Despite these challenges, organizations have seen positive results with BYOD, and it isn’t something that is likely to go away, according to many industry experts. Research firm Gartner even says BYOD is inevitable and calls for enterprises to focus on mobile-centric strategies to address the issue of device security in BYOD-enabled workplaces.

That leaves the question: What is a good BYOD policy? A recent eWeek article highlighted several things to consider. One of the traditional challenges with BYOD security involves securing the device itself.

Trying to do that in a BYOD workplace can create privacy issues, since the company doesn’t own the device. Instead of using only device-centric strategies, eWeek suggests businesses and schools hoping to leverage BYOD should protect the data and control access to it. Layered security through a mixture of data encryption and access control solutions give access to the individuals who need it without opening the data to everyone.

One of the critical elements eWeek identifies as part of a secure BYOD policy is virtualization.

“Effective virtualization security protects mobility, collaboration and social computing through isolation of sensitive resources,” the article states. “BYO cannot be effectively secured without virtualization.”

It goes back to focusing on the data. Virtualization allows access to the data without requiring employees or students to download it. Virtualization solutions can also lighten the burden on the devices themselves by utilizing centralized IT resources instead of the device’s own computing power.

Many organizations worry about the security of private information when it comes to BYOD, but the U.S. government recently showcased BYOD is possible, even with strict regulations and classified information. According to a recent InformationWeek article, federal CIO Steven VanRoekel has created a new advisory group that is working on a BYOD policy for government agencies.

What benefits do you see BYOD bringing to organizations? Do you have any other concerns for issues that BYOD might create?

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.