Bring your own device (BYOD) is a technology trend in which businesses allow employees to use their mobile devices and tablets for work tasks, as opposed to requiring them to use company-owned devices.

According to research by Dell, 61% of Generation Y workers and 50% of people over 30 believe their personal tech tools make them more productive and effective in working environments. ~Forbes

Though the concept sounds simple on the surface, choosing to implement a BYOD policy or provide phones and tablets to its staff is a significant decision with far-reaching implications for a business’s finances, security, and network administration.

BYOD can revolutionize productivity, yet the cyber risk is ever-present. Navigate cautiously, armoring your assets.” ~ Tyson Miller, vCIO


What Exactly is BYOD?

BYOD is a company policy that permits employees to use personal devices—cell phones, USB sticks, laptops, and tablets—for work activities like writing emails, communicating with coworkers, and accessing corporate data.

The advantages of BYOD arrangements fall into two general buckets:

  • Lower cost: As businesses grow, buying work phones and other devices for each employee can become considerable. There’s the direct cost of purchasing the devices, the monthly fees of providing service, and then the expense of managing those devices throughout their lifecycle.
  • Higher productivity: Allowing people to use the devices they’re most familiar with unlocks them to work how they work best. This unlocks their creativity and, according to a recent report by Cisco, pride in their workplace.

BYOD arrangements aren’t without their downsides, though. There are significant operational and cyber risks associated with implementing BYOD policies. Companies should understand the risks and take proactive steps to manage them before letting staff use personal devices for work.

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The 5 Most Significant BYOD Risks and Issues

Companies embrace BYOD arrangements because they can lower costs, help boost morale, and even improve efficiency by allowing staff to use the technology they’re most familiar with. At the same time, there are many downsides that you need to prepare yourself for as well.


Data Leakage and Theft

Data leakage is unauthorized data transmission from within an organization to somewhere or someone outside the organization. As opposed to data theft, which is intentional, the term data leakage often refers to the process of accidentally exposing company data to people outside the organization.

Data leakage occurs on BYOD devices when there is no clear management for managing the data on those devices. Typical examples are when staff access corporate email from an unprotected device, unwittingly share sensitive information to unsecured locations (or through an unsecured channel) or use social media to post company information online.


Malware Infection

Businesses shouldn’t think that only desktop PCs and servers are susceptible to malware infection. Mobile malware attacks have steadily increased in recent years, with researchers warning of a 500% surge in mobile cyberattacks in 2022 alone.

Suppose you’re going to allow BYOD devices. In that case, you must plan to install security agents on each of those personal devices and educate your staff on handling business data and red flags to watch out for. Fundamental red flags to teach your team about include abnormally slow device performance, unexplained data usage, or any pop-ups or unfamiliar ads that appear.

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Lack of Oversight

When you permit staff to use company devices for work purposes, you still need to have a system for registering those devices and ensuring they connect to your company’s network and resources safely and transparently.

Any devices outside your network administrators’ control become known as “shadow IT,” it’s a major problem for businesses, exacerbating cybersecurity vulnerabilities and exposing them to non-compliance fines. Unpatched vulnerabilities, poorly designed applications, unauthorized downloads, and other behaviors make this lack of oversight a severe issue.


Regulatory Compliance Issues

In organizations where regulatory compliance is a priority, the pitfalls of a poorly implemented BYOD policy increase exponentially. HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI-DSS are just a few of the common compliance standards that lay out strict standards for who can view personally identifiable information (PII) information, how those authorized people can transmit that data, and how that data is stored.


Stolen or Lost Devices

Even when you have the best security processes and policies, an employee can still lose a device, presenting your organization with a serious challenge. The best way to mitigate this risk is to communicate a clear set of expectations for reporting lost devices and having tools to allow technical staff to wipe company info off misplaced computers remotely.

According to a recently released survey, two-thirds of healthcare employees say they’d like to use their mobile devices to access information about scheduling and training materials. ~


Comparing the Risks of BYOD for Different Business Sizes

Here is a quick comparison of the various risks posed by a BYOD policy, broken down by business size:

Risks Small-sized Businesses Medium-sized Businesses Large-sized Businesses
Data Leakage High risk due to lack of proper security measures and oversight. Moderate risk due to better security measures but still limited oversight. Low risk due to extensive security measures and stringent oversight.
Malware Infection High risk due to limited cybersecurity awareness and protection measures. Moderate risk, as businesses usually have better cybersecurity measures but potentially more targets. High risk due to a larger number of devices and more attractive for hackers.
Lack of Oversight High risk due to limited IT staff and resources. Moderate risk due to more IT resources but larger device pool. Low risk due to more robust IT departments and protocols.
Regulatory Compliance Issues Low risk due to less stringent regulations for small businesses. Moderate risk as businesses grow and face more regulations. High risk due to more extensive regulations and higher stakes for non-compliance.
Stolen or Lost Devices Low risk due to fewer devices. Moderate risk due to a larger number of devices. High risk due to the large number of devices and potential access to sensitive data.


Avoid Problems with BYOD with Complete Network

When you decide to switch to a BYOD type arrangement, it may help to enlist the help of a technology partner with experience helping companies make the transition, like Complete Network. An external technology partner will help clarify the process and make migration much less stressful than normal.

Develop a BYOD policy

Before you invite personal devices to connect to your network, you’ll want to lay the right foundation by auditing your network and then building systems to complement our BYOD goals.

An experienced technology partner will help you define what’s known as an “acceptable use” policy for your firm, outlining in detail how staff and contractors can access company resources, their responsibilities when handling company data, and their data privacy rights.


Mobile device management solutions

An IT firm can also help you deploy specialized software, referred to a mobile device management (MDM) solution, that works in tandem with those policies. The platform enforces rules and controls, defines the correct level of access for each role, and helps you achieve consistent, streamlined management of all your devices.


Password Management

Password management policies and software are crucial to keeping the sprawl of apps and unique passwords from overwhelming your staff and causing problems for your team. By configuring and maintaining password management tools for your entire fleet of BYOD devices, the technology firm can add another layer of security to BYOD devices, removing the burden of unnecessary decision-making from your team and maximizing control and visibility for your administrators.


BYOD Risks


Complete Network – 20 Years of IT Strategy, Security, and Support

The Complete Network team has been helping small and midsized businesses embrace employee mobility and BYOD arrangements for over two decades, earning consistent praise and 5-star reviews for our speed, friendliness, and reliability.

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Could you use help to formulate a BYOD strategy for your business? Contact our team [email protected] or 844 426 7844 any time. We’re here to help!

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.