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10 ways to reduce security headaches in a BYOD world

Security is a huge concern when it comes to BYOD. Here are several steps you can take to protect your network and keep your organization's data safe.

You're about to officially allow Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in your organization. Understandably, you're concerned with the security of your network and data. With all those unknown variables entering the mix, how will you safeguard your company and keep sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands?

To put your mind at ease, you need to tackle BYOD with an eye toward security. This means policies and plans must be put into place. With BYOD, you can't always think in the same way you do with standard networking. But fear not, I have 10 ideas that might help you get through this transition.

1: Secure your data

Before you allow any non-company devices onto your network, you need to make sure your data is secure. This should go without saying, but if you have sensitive data on open shares, you're asking for trouble. Every network administrator must know the company's data is secure. But if you are about to open the floodgates to BYOD, this must be a priority.

2: Tighten your network security

Just as you've secured your data, you must make sure your network security is rock solid. Do not rely on Windows Firewall to secure your data — you need to deploy an actual, dedicated device (such as SonicWALL, Cisco, or Fortinet) to handle network security. Pay close attention to making sure the outside world is carefully locked out of your network. With all of those new devices coming in — and the possible security holes they can create —you must make sure you have a solid network security plan in place.

3: Implement a BYOD antivirus/anti-malware policy

Any device running an operating system that is susceptible to viruses must be running a company-approved antivirus solution. For devices that do not run a vulnerable platform (Android, IOS, Linux), make sure those users are not passing along suspect files to fellow workers (or customers). To that end, you can still require these users to install and use an antivirus solution to check all outgoing files for signs of infection.

4: Mandate encryption

If your BYOD users will be sharing data from outside your secured LAN, you should require them to use some form of encryption. This might mean any application that stores data on the device will require its own password to gain access to that data (this is on top of the device password). Also, if users are storing company passwords on the device, those passwords must be protected under a layer of encryption.

Save valuable time and effort. Download TechRepublic's ready-made BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policy and customize it to fit your organization's needs.

5: Take advantage of mobile application management (MAM)

You have to know what applications are being used on your network. This doesn't mean you have to prevent users from accessing Facebook or playing games (that's your call, of course). But you must make sure any application being used isn't a threat to the security of your company data. Some devices, like Android, allow you to side-load applications, so any application not on the Google Play Store can be installed. You want to make sure one of your employees isn't inadvertently letting a sniffer or port scanner loose on your network.

6: Require apps like Divide

There are apps out there, like Divide, that do a great job of placing a barrier between your personal and work data. In fact, Divide provides completely separate desktops, so the user can make no mistake. Gaining access to the business side of Divide requires a password — as well as simply knowing how to gain access to that (mostly) obfuscated desktop.

7: Require multi-layered password protection

You must require all devices to be password protected. But just having a single password to gain access to the device isn't enough. Any application, folder, or file that houses company data must also be password protected. Though it might be an inconvenience, the more password protection those mobile devices have, the safer your data will be. At the same time, you should make sure that users do NOT have passwords (such as those for company VPNs) stored on the machine, unless they are stored in an application that requires encrypted password to open.

8: Implement company-wide phone wipe

If your users want BYOD, they have to be willing to sign on to a plan that gives you the power to wipe their phone if it's lost or stolen. Though this should be the case with every user (not just those using their devices for work), many don't see the value in making sure their sensitive data can be easily deleted if the phone winds up in the wrong hands.

9: Require use of company wireless when on premise

You know some users will "forget" to connect to your wireless network when they arrive. You do not want them doing business on their carrier network. Make sure all users understand that if they are to use their device on premises, they must use your wireless network. Not only will this help secure your company data, it will allow you to better monitor and control what goes on.

10: Limit device support

Thought I would like to think any network/system administrator can support all devices, the reality is that the more flavors of technology the more challenging the job. If you open your company up to BYOD, you are within your rights to limit that policy to certain devices. Say you only want to open this up to tablets that do not have a carrier (so they are limited to Wi-Fi only) or to a single platform. By doing this, you not only make your job easier, you help keep your company network/data more secure.

Other advice?

What measures has your organization taken to prevent security breaches in a BYOD environment? Share your suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.

More resources

For a comprehensive look at BYOD strategies, benefits, and challenges, check out ZDNet's latest feature page, BYOD and the Consumerization of IT.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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