From global pioneers to budding startups, almost every organization around the globe has adopted a mandatory work-from-home routine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This shift has brought up numerous questions for decision-makers: How are we going to pull this off? Is work-from-home strategy feasible? Is our network security going to be compromised? Is BYOD the solution?

From a business perspective, the primary concern is ensuring remote employees’ productivity does not falter. To meet this goal, organizations should ensure that employees have the required IT resources. However, not all organizations will have the necessary resources to scale up and provide mobile IT services to employees. Some organizations are now looking to implement the bring your own device (BYOD) policy to enable remote employees to use their personal IT resources to deliver valuable output.

However, implementing a BYOD policy comes with a lot of security concerns, adding to the increased risk of cyberattacks already brought on by remote work. To avoid a costly data breach, your organization must tread carefully while executing a BYOD strategy.

How can IT admins successfully execute a BYOD policy for remote employees?

Implementing minor improvements to your network can protect it from the vulnerabilities and concerns mentioned above. If your organization plans to execute a BYOD policy for remote employees, be sure to follow these best practices.

Keep your network safe from malware infiltration and cyberattacks.

Given the current work-from-home mandates, hackers have already started targeting remote employees. Adopting a BYOD policy could further complicate things for a network admin. The personal devices owned by remote employees may be vulnerable to malware infiltration due to external sources (such as the installation of third-party apps or browsing random websites). Existing malware on employee devices may initiate DDoS attacks on the corporate network and result in server downtime. This will bring down network availability and domain health, resulting in loss of productivity.

It’s crucial to not only monitor your entire network in real time, but also correlate various network anomalies and identify attacks at an early stage. To maintain a fully functional and secure network while allowing BYOD devices, the practice of network behavior analysis helps your network administrator to predict network anomalies such as DDoS attacks; suspicious sources, destinations, and flows; and port scanners. In addition, your IT team should identify and block unwanted IP requests and unauthorized port requests from random applications.

Plan your bandwidth capacity efficiently.

A sudden increase in traffic can greatly affect network bandwidth. In a BYOD environment, remote employees may use personal services and applications that consume a considerable amount of bandwidth. If these applications are used for non-business activities, it will also bring down your organization’s ROI for its allocated bandwidth budget.

In case of an unnatural surge in traffic, the primary focus should be analyzing and identifying the root cause of the issue. Continuously monitoring your network and being aware of any surge or anomaly in bandwidth utilization will help you plan your enterprise VPN bandwidth better. In addition, knowledge of each user’s bandwidth consumption is helpful for restricting increased or unwanted usage.

Have a well-defined structure on who can access what.

Always be aware of what information is available for remote workers. As discussed earlier, organizations following the practice of BYOD are at higher risk of their network being compromised. Giving employees unlimited access to all confidential information will make it that much easier for hackers to steal your company’s data. To avoid this, network administrators need to clearly define who can access what and provide access to confidential information only after prior approval from management.

This becomes especially tricky for a BYOD environment, as you need to clearly map the correct device to the respective remote employee before giving them the appropriate access. Once this is done, you also need to continuously monitor which device is trying to get what data.

Communicate security protocols to your employees.

It is essential to communicate common security best practices that your remote employees need to follow. That includes practices like: Never share office credentials via email or chat, even with your IT admin. Always reset and secure your existing home Wi-Fi credentials, and never connect your BYOD assets to public Wi-Fi. Do not open suspicious emails, and avoid clicking on links that are new or unfamiliar. Keep an eye out for announcements from your IT admin about updated security protocols and recent security incidents.
It’s the responsibility of each employee working in a BYOD environment to adhere to corporate guidelines and cooperate with network administrators to ensure a fully secure network.

A network administrator can safely implement BYOD for remote employees by abiding to the above practices. Continuously monitoring your entire network, analyzing security concerns, and forecasting anomalies will greatly reduce the chance of security threats and also help in maintaining a problem-free network in any given situation.

*This write-up was originally published on Dataquest, India*

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