In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, organizations must adapt to new threats and emerging technologies without breaking the bank. For many years companies have had Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in place for mobile devices. In fact many organizations leverage employee mobile devices to facilitate work outside of the traditional office, often giving a stipend for their use. A prominent trend that is gaining momentum, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an ever-expanding global workforce, is the expansion of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) framework to laptops, also referred to as BYO-PC.
Secure BYOD: Balancing Benefits, Security, and Employee Adoption
Secure BYOD for laptops allows employees and contractors to use their personal devices to access business applications and data, offering a myriad of benefits including cost savings, increased productivity, and overall employee satisfaction. However, it also poses novel challenges. Some IT teams I have spoken with were hesitant towards the prospect of letting unmanaged devices access their ecosystems while others were enthusiastic, yet cautiously embracing it. I get it. BYOD can open an organization up to new attack vectors and in most people’s minds, unmanaged equates to un-secure. On top of the potential for new attack vectors, the market just really hadn’t produced a good solution for allowing secure work on unmanaged laptops.
The traditional approach of providing company-managed computers feels like the way to go. I mean, what’s more secure than a computer locked down tighter than Fort Knox where you can’t even jam out to a little jazz-funk on YouTube? The problem with this approach is that it is inflexible and costly. It just doesn’t scale with a remote, globally distributed workforce. Moreover, regardless of whether you have a BYOD policy in place or not, 2/3 of employees use their personal device for work in some way.
BYOD is here to stay, and for organizations with a distributed remote workforce, it just makes sense. Of course, it’s not something you should take lightly and one of the keys to a successful implementation is designing a robust BYOD policy that ensures organization security and that employees will actually follow it. But before delving into the specifics of a BYOD policy, there’s a crucial first step we need to take – getting stakeholder buy-in.
Implementing Secure BYOD for Laptops: Buy-In Makes All the Difference
You may be rip-roaring and ready to create and implement a Secure BYOD policy ASAP but consider the last time you’ve tried to put in place a new policy in your organization. In my experience, introducing anything new, especially policies, without getting stakeholder buy-in is typically met with resistance. You need allies. HR, Finance, IT, Security, and executives all have a stake in the successful implementation of the policy. They can help with crafting the policy by providing valuable perspectives on the needs of each part of the org they represent.
That said, trying to ram through a policy on the merit of authority alone may “work”, but it isn’t an effective strategy to ensure employees adhere to it. Yes you need their buy-in as well. One way you can do this is by holding sessions to discuss the intent, and listen and empathize with their concerns. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. One thing is for sure, you’re going to hear concerns about personal privacy and you should be prepared to address this.
You’ll also want to make sure you understand the full extent of the applications that employees use for work and what devices they intend on working with. You can ask the stakeholders to survey their teams to help you get this information. Once you’ve rallied your allies and secured buy-in from the key stakeholders, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get down to the nitty-gritty – drafting an effective BYOD security policy.
Creating the Secure BYOD Policy for Laptops
Now, armed with stakeholder buy-in and data, you can start creating or expanding your Secure BYOD policy to include laptops. Consider the following:
- Approved Applications: Define which applications can be used to access company data. This list should be comprehensive and regularly updated to ensure data security.
- Device and System Requirements: Specify the types of computers and operating systems that are acceptable under the policy. Ensure they meet your organization’s security standards.
- Device Compliance Requirements: Establish mandatory requirements for devices that will access company data. This could include using a Device Management Software (DMS) to verify device compliance, ruling out computers with outdated operating systems, and requiring specific security measures such as multi-factor authentication, auto-lock settings, and drive encryption.
- Lost or Stolen Devices: Develop a protocol for reporting lost or stolen devices. This will help mitigate the risk of data breaches and ensure a swift response to potential security incidents.
- Policy Flexibility: Your BYOD policy should be adaptable to changes in technology and emerging threats. Regular reviews and updates will help maintain the relevance and effectiveness of your policy.
- Employee Privacy: Clarify how personal and company data will be segregated and protected. This includes defining what constitutes personal and company data, how each type will or will not be monitored, and where the data will be stored.
Secure BYOD Success: Engaging Communication & Consistent Training
Even the most robust Secure BYOD policies won’t do much good if they become just another document that your employees skim over and dutifully sign. It needs to be thoroughly communicated and followed by everyone in your organization. Scheduling informational sessions that highlight the importance, potential impact of non-compliance, and what employees need to do in order to comply with the policy can go a long way toward ensuring the policies are understood and adhered to.
Your BYOD policy should also be easily accessible and understandable. Don’t use overly technical language and communicate in a way that any employee, regardless of their technical fluency, can understand.
Lastly, consistency and repetition are key to the successful enforcement of your organization’s policies. Ensure employees receive regular compliance training and that you perform regular audits of assets and access points.
Venn: Purpose Built for Secure BYOD
Venn was explicitly designed with the challenges of a Secure BYOD policy in mind. Our patented technology ensures secure remote work on any unmanaged or BYOD computer, providing a simpler and less costly solution than traditional approaches. Similar to an MDM solution but for laptops – work lives in a company-controlled Secure Enclave installed on the user’s PC or Mac, where business activity is isolated and protected from any personal use on the same computer.
In addition to the isolation and protection provided by the Secure Enclave, the device itself can be required to pass company-set compliance checks before a user is able to work within the enclave. Venn’s robust device compliance policy options are designed to meet all regulatory requirements, such as enforcing drive encryption and ensuring antivirus protection is up to date, while the admin compliance dashboard portal gives you insight into the overall hygiene of your ecosystem and an inventory of all devices being used to access company resources.
The era of Secure BYOD is an opportunity for organizations to reshape how they think about working. With the right plan and robust policies, Secure BYOD can be a strategic step towards entering into the future of work. Venn can help you take that step confidently, ensuring that your Secure BYOD journey is not only secure but rewarding for everyone. With Venn, you’re not just adopting a new technology, you’re embracing the new way to work.