Tips for BYOD Computer Network Security

Posted by Dustin Smith, Chief Technologist
August 6, 2013

recent CDW poll confirmed what many of us likely already know; tablet usage is increasing. In fact, the poll showed that roughly 33 percent of US adults own a tablet today compared with just 18 percent a year ago, and 56 percent of the poll respondents said that they use a tablet at work. Already, BYOD is firmly taking root in organizations of all size.

The good news according to CDW:

CDW found that tablet users spend about two hours daily on their tablet for work purposes, gaining just over one hour in daily productivity thanks to tablet use. Employees are spending about a quarter of their total computing time on their tablets, and especially like the ability to manage email and calendars and to take notes. A whopping 84% of respondents confirmed that tablets do make them better multi-taskers while at work.

So with employee productivity increasing with BYOD adoption, data security is becoming a concern – and one that could reverse employee productivity in a big way. Avnet CIO, Steve Phillips, shared a video recently that highlighted five tips for a more secure mobile workforce.  Here they are:

1. Password usage. While Steve encourages the use of passwords, it’s even more important to emphasize the use of strong passwords, and multiple passwords. Don’t use the same password for every logon as you’ll widen the exposure of any single data breach. Don’t use personal identifiers, such as your dog’s name or birthday, since social media channels like Facebook make it easy for hackers to find this information. Be sure to use letters, numbers and other keyword symbols. As we’ve said before, a tool like LastPass can help!

2. Keep other account passwords off mobile devices. This one is simple and important… don’t use the ‘remember me’ features common on computing devices today, and be sure to log off before exiting the program or application.

3. Keep critical data off of the device. Don’t download the data to the device. Instead, use it in the application and close that application when finished.

4. Be cognizant of malware on the mobile device. People are fairly cautious when using their computers or laptops, but tend to be less so with tablets and smartphones. Hackers are getting savvier with mobile malware, so we need to as well.

5. Be cautious of the cloud. The cloud has opened a world of opportunities for companies, employees…and hackers.

We blogged on BYOD data security in February – 4 ½ Things to Consider for Enhancing Computer Network Security for BYOD – and covered a few that Steve didn’t have on his list:

6. Create a company specific BYOD policy. It’s not easy to create a BYOD policy specific to your company needs, but it’s critical. What devices are acceptable and which are not? What data can be accessed by a personal device and what data cannot? Some companies have regulatory controls that need to be considered when it comes to data – HIPAA, PCI DSS as example – so you policy needs to be individualized.

7. If you really require more secure BYOD access, think VPN. BYOD devices can support VPN, and while it may be a little more complicated, if your company requires more security you’ll find that managing access via VPN will be a lot easier than trying to ban BYOD altogether.

By embracing BYOD, you can realize some of the employee productivity gains that other companies are already experiencing. Not embracing BYOD – especially in light of the growing usage – could actually result in a decline in employee productivity, which can happen when you have unhappy employees.

About Dustin Smith Throughout his twenty-year career, Dustin Smith has specialized in designing enterprise architectural solutions. As the Chief Technologist, Dustin is responsible for the strategic direction of aligning the company’s growing consulting services with the client challenges he finds in the field, and he works closely with his regional architects to design new programs to address these issues.

Filed Under: Network Security

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