Bring your own device: benefits and risks
Bring your own device (BYOD) is a practice of allowing employees to use their own personal laptops, smartphones, tablets or other devices for work.
It is a growing trend among many businesses and promises many benefits. However, BYOD can present some significant challenges, not least around security and data protection. Make sure you understand both to embrace BYOD with confidence.
Advantages of BYOD
A successful, well-controlled BYOD environment can:
- offer greater flexibility and increase workforce mobility
- increase efficiency and productivity
- raise employee satisfaction
- allow greater choice in device type
- cut hardware spend and software licencing costs
- cut down on device management for business-owned devices
With proper use and safety precautions, allowing employees to use their own devices for work can be an ideal workplace policy for some businesses.
However, where BYOD is not completely understood and regulated, it can seriously threaten the security of your business data and systems.
BYOD raises a number of data protection concerns and can lead to vulnerabilities in information security. For example:
- Intentionally or accidentally, private information could leak from unprotected and unmanaged devices.
- Personal devices may lack data encryption capabilities or can be lost or stolen, increasing the risks of data loss or exposure.
- Personal devices may contain malicious apps or malware or be more vulnerable to attack from online threats. Responsibility to manage passwords, anti-virus and anti-malware protection, security patches and other safety measures, falls onto the device owner, meaning you have little to no control over safeguarding the device.
- Storage of business and personal data on the same device may be challenging. You must also consider the security of data once it is stored on the device.
- You may need to modify your current IT infrastructure and tech support to make it BYOD compliant, across the whole range of devices and applications your employees will be using.
Read the Information Commissioner's Office guidelines on BYOD and data protection.
Bring your own device policy
Before you integrate BYOD into your business, follow these three vital steps:
- conduct a thorough risk assessment - see IT risk assessment methodology
- consider your responsibility for data access, processing and storage - see how to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- develop a clear BYOD policy - find out how in NCSC's BYOD guidance
If you're concerned about your business' security, learn how to protect your business online.