Many organizations now support their employees' use of personal mobile devices to remotely perform work-related activities. This increasingly common practice, known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), provides employees with increased flexibility to telework and access organizational information resources. Helping ensure that an organization's data is protected when it is accessed from personal devices, while ensuring employee privacy, poses unique challenges and threats, however.
The new National Institute of Standards and Technology Mobile Device Security: Bring Your Own Device Practice Guide provides an example solution demonstrating how to enhance security and privacy in Android and Apple smartphone BYOD deployments, NIST announced.
Incorporating BYOD capabilities into an organization can provide greater flexibility in how employees work and increase the opportunities and methods available to access organizational resources, said NIST officials. For some organizations, the combination of traditional in-office processes with mobile device technologies enables portable communication approaches and adaptive workflows. For others, it fosters a mobile first approach in which their employees communicate and collaborate primarily using their mobile devices. Many organizations and employees agree this new paradigm can increase productivity and greater employee satisfaction.
Conversely, some of the features that make BYOD mobile devices increasingly flexible, functional and convenient also present unique security and privacy challenges to both work organizations and device owners, NIST explained. The unique nature of these challenges is driven by the diverse range of devices available that vary in type, age, operating system (OS), and level of risk posed.
In other words, enabling BYOD capabilities in enterprise networks and applications introduces new cybersecurity risks to organizations. Solutions that are designed to secure corporate devices and on-premises data do not provide an effective cybersecurity solution for BYOD, NIST cautioned. Finding an effective solution can be challenging due to the unique risks that BYOD deployments impose. Additionally, enabling BYOD capabilities introduces new privacy risks to employees by providing their employer a degree of access to their personal devices, opening up the possibility of observation and control that would not otherwise exist.
To assist organizations and employees alike in benefitting from BYOD’s flexibility while providing critical security and privacy, NIST’s Practice Guide provides an example solution using standards-based, commercially available products and step-by-step implementation guidance.
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