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9 BYOD Security Best Practices for Small and Medium-sized Businesses

  |  Dashlane

With more businesses shifting to remote work, many professionals now use their personal devices to access work emails and files. Recent studies show that more than 80% of organizations have Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in place. 

While these policies offer flexibility and boost productivity, they can expose your business to several cyber threats. This blog post lists all the possible BYOD security solutions to mitigate such risks.

Breaking down BYOD security for small to medium-sized businesses

Bring your own device (BYOD) refers to employees using their own personal devices for company work. BYOD security concerns mainly arise from data leakage or unsecured devices. Employees may not have adequate security measures on their personal devices, making them more vulnerable to hacking or malware.

For small and medium-sized businesses with limited resources, it is challenging to monitor and control access to company data, apps, and devices, which can lead to data breaches, non-compliance with industry regulations, and reputational damage. These smaller organizations need to implement BYOD security policies and best practices to mitigate these risks and safeguard sensitive data.

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BYOD security risks

Some of the major BYOD security risks include the following:

  • Social engineering attacks: Phishing attacks can become a BYOD security risk when employees unknowingly click on a link or open an attachment in a suspicious email on their personal devices. Such phishing attacks can lead to the installation of malware or the disclosure of sensitive information to attackers.
  • Fake and malicious apps: These apps have the potential to hijack the users' mobile devices, steal information and install dangerous malware. With the latest surge in ransomware attacks, such hazards can infect employee devices without detection, ultimately granting access to sensitive corporate data.
  • Lack of enforcement: Maintaining security can pose a challenge for IT administrators if employees share passwords insecurely, do not run timely system updates, and use less secure devices with customized security settings (also known as jailbreaking).
  • Lost or stolen devices: Sensitive corporate data may be at risk when personal devices are stolen or lost, especially if they are missing the most basic security features. It could be disastrous if an unsecured device fell into the hands of a cybercriminal, as they could gain access to your entire company network.
  • Unsecured WiFi: When employees connect their personal devices to an unsecured network, such as a public WiFi network, their devices can become vulnerable to cyberattacks. Such attacks may result in data breaches, financial loss, or reputational damage for the employee and the company.
  • Cross-usage: Mixing personal and business data is inevitable in BYOD scenarios. Even after providing security training, it can be challenging to ensure that employees follow best practices and avoid risky behaviors, such as shopping on compromised websites and lending their devices to others.

With organizations embracing the hybrid work culture, cybersecurity practices are also evolving. Learn how growing businesses adopt cybersecurity and password management practices for a hybrid workplace.

9 best practices for BYOD security

There are multiple ways to enhance BYOD security in your workplace. Here are the top BYOD best practices small and medium-sized businesses should follow:

  1. Create a robust BYOD security policy

A well-designed BYOD security policy is one of the best ways to mitigate risks associated with personal devices. A BYOD policy includes device management, data encryption, network security, employee training, and regular updates to prevent unauthorized access to corporate networks and resources.

A clearly defined password policy will also enhance cybersecurity by defining how employees should generate, store, and share passwords for business accounts. Documenting and training employees on these practices regularly helps establish consistent behaviors and expectations, reducing the chances of a data breach.

Graphic of an icon representing a PDF handout from an employer with a list of recommended security practices for work from home employees.
  1. Communicate with and educate employees

All employees should receive education and training regarding the security risks and best practices associated with BYOD workplaces. Employee training includes education on why and how to follow best practices such as using strong passwords, avoiding public WiFi without a VPN, promptly updating devices, and reporting lost devices and phishy behavior.

  1. Create a culture of security 

A strong security culture in the workplace encourages employees to safeguard company assets and information by understanding the consequences of a data breach and their role in maintaining cybersecurity. By providing appropriate tools, promoting best practices, and effectively communicating your organization's security goals, you can collaborate with employees to establish a robust security culture.

  1. Monitor the devices connected to your company network

IT administrators should have visibility into all devices connected to the company network and be able to monitor the activity of those devices. If any suspicious activity is detected, immediate action can be taken to prevent data loss. In addition, IT teams should also be able to manage, configure, and push security updates, software patches, or configuration changes to BYOD devices remotely. 

  1. Keep business and personal data exclusive

You can keep your business and personal data separate with the help of app segregation and VPNs. App segregation creates a clear, strong barrier between personal and work-related data on a BYOD device, reducing the chances of accidental access to work data. Meanwhile, a VPN establishes a secure connection by encrypting internet traffic and protecting all communications from interceptions.

Graphic representing separate Business and Personal spaces.
  1. Use a password manager

Password managers can generate and store unique, strong passwords in encrypted databases that can be automatically filled across various devices. Some password managers, like Dashlane, offer additional BYOD security features, such as secure credential sharing, Dark Web Monitoring, and separate Spaces for Personal and Business accounts. Spaces allows you to share personal logins with friends and family while masking your work credentials, payment info, secure notes, and IDs. Plus, if you switch employers, you can continue to use your Personal Space to protect your personal info. 

  1. Encrypt sensitive data

Encryption is crucial for everyone, especially those using personal devices at work. For example, Dashlane Password Manager employs AES-256 encryption to scramble passwords on devices, and a VPN encrypts all messages and data to prevent interception. Dashlane encrypts all data and metadata; a safety precaution that not all password managers have taken. 

  1. Secure data with containerization and remote wipe

Containerization is a data isolation technique that creates separate environments or "containers" within an operating system so that sensitive data and apps are kept separate from personal ones. Data can also be isolated through encryption and user authentication. As an extra precaution, remote wipe enables IT administrators to delete data from a device if lost or stolen. 

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategy is also used to prevent the loss, misuse, and access of critical information by unauthorized individuals. DLP tools can apply specific policies to control how information, such as files, emails, or applications, is used as it is created. These policies can define rules and restrictions for handling sensitive information, such as preventing unauthorized access, copying, sharing, or transmitting data outside the organization.

  1. Scan for malware and viruses

Personal devices are at an increased risk of being infected by malware or viruses. One way to tackle this issue is using a reliable antivirus and malware scanning software on all devices connected to the organization's network.

Common components of a BYOD policy

A comprehensive BYOD policy can help implement and enforce security measures to help mitigate the risks of using personal devices for work. A BYOD policy should:

  • Define safe app and device usage: It is essential to define which devices and apps are allowed for business use, including the specific security requirements they must meet. Your BYOD policy should also prohibit employees from installing apps that could pose a security risk, such as those that request excessive permissions or are more likely to contain malware.
  • Make sure employees are connected from a secured network: On average, there are about 2,200 cyberattacks each day, and secured networks can prevent the majority of them. Companies may require employees to connect to the company's network through a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing work-related data or resources. This can help protect against potential security risks associated with public WiFi networks or unsecured personal networks. 
  • Provide tools to make adoption and enforcement easy. A password manager for small businesses helps employees maintain good cyber hygiene by generating strong, unique passwords and safely autofilling their credentials. Some password managers also have useful features like single sign-on (SSO), a secure sharing portal, an IT dashboard, and a password health score. 2-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring more than just a username and password. A few extra seconds during the login process makes a big difference in protecting against unauthorized account access. A VPN creates an encrypted portal for online activity, which keeps a user’s data and activity secure and anonymous.
Graphic of a toolbox representing 5 tools that work-from-home employees should use, including SSO, 2FA, Autofill, a VPN, and Dashlane.
  • Remove sensitive data from the personal devices of departing employees: During off-boarding of employees, it is crucial to remove all sensitive and corporate data from their personal devices. If any data remains, it can be exploited in multiple ways, potentially leading to data breaches.
  • Run periodic security checks and updates on BYOD devices: All BYOD systems and apps should be updated to the latest version, which often has security patches and performance improvements.
  • Create a response plan to tackle security challenges: Businesses should have a robust incident response plan outlining how to respond to potential security breaches or incidents involving employee devices. This plan should include steps for containing and investigating the incident, notifying affected parties, and restoring systems and data.

BYOD security tools for small to medium-sized businesses

For small to medium-sized businesses, BYOD security can be customized with the help of the following security tools:

Mobile Device Management (MDM) system

Mobile Device Management (MDM) software enables organizations to manage and secure BYOD mobile devices by providing remote device configuration, data encryption, application management, and device tracking features. 

With MDM, organizations can perform procedures like remotely wiping sensitive data from an employee device, locating a missing BYOD phone, and isolating business data from personal data. 

Network Access Control (NAC)

Network Access Control (NAC) software ensures that only authorized devices and users are granted access to the company network. It also enforces security applications like antivirus and firewalls. 

When combined with MDM, Network Access Control enables organizations to monitor, manage, secure, and enforce security policies on employee devices. 

Virtual private network (VPN)

When an employee connects to the company network using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), all sensitive data and messages get encrypted. Encryption prevents hackers from reading anything, even if they intercept the data. Many organizations also use a centralized VPN to enforce security policies across all devices.

Protect your business with Dashlane’s fast and reliable VPN, available to all Dashlane Business plan customers at no extra cost.

Password manager

Using a trustworthy password manager can significantly enhance password hygiene and reduce the risk of password-related security breaches. It securely stores all passwords in an encrypted database that only a master password can unlock.

How Dashlane helps keep businesses secure

The recent escalation of remote work and cybersecurity threats have made password managers an essential tool for small and medium businesses worldwide. Dashlane makes BYOD password security easy with secure password sharing, an admin console, and Password Health scores. Dashlane also protects SMB data with AES-256 encryption (one of the most robust forms of encryption), separate Personal and Business spaces, 2-factor authentication, Dark Web Monitoring, and a built-in VPN.

Don't let cyber threats compromise your small business. Stay ahead of the game by reading our report on the Top 5 Security Trends for Small Businesses.


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