Bring Your Own Device – The Security Risk and How To Make It Work
In this day of age, lots of people have portable devices. Along with laptops, there are also tablets and smartphones that users choose to bring in to work and use. This is called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). BYOD can make things more convenient for the user by giving them preference over what hardware and software they use.
However, there are certain troubles that BYOD can cause. Find them below.
Issue #1: Introduction of viruses to your network
Devices that belong to the company will be heavily regulated by the IT department. The computers will have full anti-virus software installed with strictly controlled firewalls and website blocking to prevent any viruses from getting on the network.
A user’s own device isn’t heavily regulated. They may have anti-virus on their device (they’d be silly not to) but this won’t necessarily stop them from getting infected. If the device is being used for personal use only then it won’t be a problem for the IT department or the company.
But when the user brings in the device to work, connects it to the network and starts sending out emails to colleagues then you could see the office quickly becoming contaminated with viruses. This will be a nightmare for the company as it will take a while to clear the computers of viruses and get the office back online. This brings me to my second point.
Issue #2: Compromising of company data
With the rise of cyber-crime, company data has become a valuable and tightly guarded asset. All this data will be kept on encrypted servers behind firewalls and locked doors. All these measures would make it very hard for a potential hacker to get to the data, but with BYOD this can all be compromised.
If a user does some work on sensitive data from their own device then they could compromise by having little safeguards against hackers but also, should they take the data out of the company building, they could compromise the data by accidentally leaving their device in a place that could be stolen or the person accidentally loses it in a public place (that has happened before with Government officials leaving laptops and USB sticks on the train).
Issue #3: Technical Problems
With company devices, everything is uniform. All the computers would have the same software, hardware and applications which make it easier for IT support to fix potential issues.
With BYOD you’ll find lots of different devices with different specifications. This makes it a lot harder for IT support to fix issues due to being unfamiliar with technology and the quagmire of apps the user would have on their device. It also causes troubles with hardware and software compatibility.
For example, a user brings in their MacBook Pro to do work on and uses an Apple application to do work. He then sends this work to his colleagues (who are using Windows-based devices) and they are unable to view his work because they haven’t got the software to view the file.
There are ways around the problems caused by BYOD.
VMware Virtual Machines to the Rescue
The use of VMs could completely negate the risks of BYOD if it’s implemented properly.
This is how it would work: The user would bring in their device to work. Once the device is set up, connect it to a public network. This would give it internet access without putting the potentially infected device on the same network as other, more secure devices on the company network. Once connected to the internet, it can start up its company VM and do its work on the VM.
By doing the work on the VM over a public network, the device isn’t in contact with any other company devices on a private network. That way, viruses won’t be able to spread to company devices and infect them.
Also, by using VMs, company data can’t be physically taken off-site. If the user takes their device off-site then the company data won’t leave with them because it will be on their VM. That way, should they lose their device or it gets stolen, no untrusted third parties would be able to view the data as they would not have access to the VM.
The use of VMware VM’s also cuts out the issue of troubleshooting and hardware & software compatibility issues. The VM’s can be created from templates meaning that all users would be using the same applications whilst working from their own devices. Should a problem occur with the VM, IT support can fix it quickly (and easily) from their own computers.
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