Over the past few years, it has become clear that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies do wonders for employee productivity and morale. However, BYOD programs can also increase an organization’s exposure to cyberattacks and security risks. 

In this article, we explore some of the most common BYOD security risks, best practices for preventing them, and how Venn can help. Before getting into BYOD vulnerabilities, you might want to dive deeper into the concept of BYOD itself. If so – you’re welcome to discover more about what  BYOD is, here.

9 Most Common BYOD Security Risks

BYOD programs can bring significant benefits to a company and its employees. However, they can also introduce a range of security threats and vulnerabilities. These are nine of the most common BYOD security risks.

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#1. Data Leakage

Data breaches are most organizations’ primary cybersecurity concern. Exposure of customer or business data can result in brand damage, regulatory penalties, legal fees, and other harm to the organization. BYOD policies increase the potential for data to be leaked or breached. Corporate and customer data stored on personal devices may be more vulnerable to theft and data loss if these devices are insecure or stolen. Additionally, employees may take this data with them when they leave the organization, which could leak this data to competitors or open it to other abuse.

#2. Use of Insecure Public Wi-Fi

Laptops and mobile devices are designed to make it easy for a user to connect to wireless networks. In fact, the default setting on these devices is usually to automatically connect to any network that the device recognizes (i.e. knows the SSID and password). As a result, BYOD systems are likely to be connected to public Wi-Fi networks available in airports, coffee shops, and other public places.

These insecure public networks can introduce various threats to the device and the organization. An attacker eavesdropping on the network traffic can read any data sent over the network. Additionally, many computers have relaxed security for networks that a user has labeled as a “private” network, which may enable an attacker to compromise a device if a public network is mislabeled as private.

#3. Insecure Devices

BYOD policies enable employees to use their personal devices for work purposes. This means that the company doesn’t own the device and lacks the ability to control how it is used, configured, and secured.

Personal devices used under a BYOD program may be less secure than corporate devices. For example, a user may not have installed a security update on their device that closes a vulnerability in the operating system. As a result, the device may be vulnerable to exploitation by an attacker.

#4. Mixed-Use Devices

Devices used under a BYOD policy are inherently mixed-used devices. In addition to being used for business, an employee also retains the right to use their own device for a range of personal purposes.

This mixed-use introduces various risks to the organization. Phishing attacks targeting the user’s personal email account or text messages could grant an attacker access to corporate data or systems. Additionally, the personal device could be used for purposes that are deemed inappropriate or in violation of corporate policies.

#5. Lack of Control

Under a BYOD program, an organization doesn’t own the devices that some of its employees use for work. This means that the organization has limited ability to control or enforce corporate policies for these devices.

Under a BYOD policy, an organization can block access to corporate systems and applications from devices that violate corporate policy (out of date, missing antivirus, etc.). However, it can’t restrict what users can do with their personal devices, which increases the risk of malicious apps, phishing attacks, and other potential threats to the organization.

Lack of control

#6. Inadequate Policies

BYOD policies introduce various additional security risks to the organization. Some of these risks are caused by how employees use their personal devices both for and outside of work. If an organization hasn’t implemented and distributed BYOD security policies, then employees may not understand their responsibilities under the program. This can increase an organization’s security risk as employees may not be aware that the actions that they’re taking threaten the company’s cybersecurity and are in violation of corporate security policies.

#7. Lost/Stolen Devices

BYOD systems can contain a range of sensitive information. Even if corporate information is not downloaded to the device, it might contain saved passwords and other authentication credentials that provide access to corporate systems. This information saved on a device may be at risk if the device is lost or stolen. Often, personal devices have weak PINs (1234, 0000, etc.) or no PIN for convenience. Even if they do, systems exist for cracking these PINs. As a result, an attacker with access to an employee’s device may be able to gain access to the data it contains, even if full-disk encryption (FDE) is enabled on the device.

#8. Insecure Remote Work Infrastructure

BYOD programs often require an organization to provide remote access to its infrastructure and applications. If a personal device is used remotely or is not connected to the corporate LAN, some gateway must exist for granting access.

This publicly exposed remote access infrastructure can introduce security risks for the organization as well. For example, virtual private networks (VPNs) are a common choice for offering secure remote access. However, they also grant unrestricted access to the corporate network and have no built-in security inspection capabilities, which can be problematic if a user’s credentials or device is compromised by an attacker.

#9. Regulatory Compliance Challenges

Most organizations are subject to at least one data privacy or protection law. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) all have requirements for managing access to and securing certain types of protected data.

BYOD policies complicate regulatory compliance because sensitive, protected data may be accessible to or stored on personally owned devices. This increases the difficulty of maintaining and demonstrating compliance since an organization may lack full visibility into and control over these devices.

How to Protect Your Business Against BYOD Threats

Many of the potential security threats that BYOD programs introduce can be managed by implementing a solid BYOD policy and the right security controls. Some best practices for implementing BYOD security include:

For a comprehensive guide on ensuring your business’s safety with BYOD, explore more about BYOD security best practices.

How to Protect Your Business Against BYOD Threats

Venn’s BYOD Security Solution

BYOD security risks largely stem from the fact that an organization lacks control over the personal devices that employees use for work. As a result, corporate data is placed at risk, and stolen or compromised devices could grant an attacker access to company applications or systems. Venn Software eliminates the security risks of BYOD by creating a secure enclave on the user’s device. All corporate data and access to company applications is constrained to this environment, which can be remotely monitored and managed by the IT and security team.

Heather Howland

Heather Howland

SVP Marketing

Responsible for championing the Venn brand, building awareness, and accelerating growth. With 20+ years of marketing experience and various marketing leadership roles, I'm passionate about bringing new technologies to market.