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How the BYOD Trend Increases Cloud Security Risks

How the BYOD Trend Increases Cloud Security Risks
October 30
11:36 2013

A growing disparity in BYOD management and user trends may be putting your business data at risk, especially if you use cloud-computing resources. Recent statistics indicate that 81 percent of individuals use personal devices like smart phones and tablets for work functions. However, only 66 percent of individuals reported that their companies had a bring-your-own-device policy in place. That lack of oversight creates a hole in security defenses that could lead to hacks and compliance issues.

How Employees Use Personal Devices

Training and awareness is one of the biggest challenges when dealing with data security and compliance. According to Forbes, security leaders are still focused on technologies. The growing trend of BYOD makes it important for security companies and employers to develop strategies for policy-creation and education. For example, 35 percent of employees reported that they store work-related usernames and passwords on their smartphone. This practice puts entire networks at risk, especially in a cloud environment. In the past, a password might not have been enough for someone to gain access to in-house servers. With virtual servers and Internet-based work portals, anyone with access to an employee’s login could access sensitive information or cause havoc with work processes.

Increasing Errors Due to On-the-Go Work

Not every process is conducive to smartphone or tablet access. Without the proper oversight, employees could be accessing complex work functions from the small screen of a smartphone. Employers that have not implemented BYOD policies are unlikely to have developed mobile-friendly versions of workflow systems, leaving employees at risk of making mistakes when working through improper access points.

Improper Audit Trails

When you have employees accessing various portions of your system from undocumented personal devices, it can become difficult to create a detailed audit trail of system access. Such logs could be required during technical audits, and are often used in industries like healthcare or finance to show auditing organizations that access is strictly managed. With phantom IP addresses hitting your system, you can’t be sure whether employees are doing work or hackers are stealing protected data.

The Important of Cloud and BYOD Policies

Even with the risks inherent in both cloud and BYOD processes, companies cannot say no to the overwhelming benefits on efficiency and production sides. That’s why it’s essential to create a BYOD policy with cloud resources in mind. Enhance security and ensure compliance by creating a policy that dictates which work functions can be accessed via mobile devices, requires employees to list BYOD devices, and trains employees to protect data while using their devices for work. You’ll also need to create an oversight process for BYOD work. As part of your standard compliance or security reviews, someone should ensure all devices hitting the system are approved BYOD devices. It might also be a good idea to randomly audit the details of device access to ensure employees are using BYOD privileges appropriately.

A detailed policy, comprehensive training, and employer awareness of BYOD use allows you to take advantage of cloud and BYOD benefits without creating unnecessary security and compliance risks.

Hassan Sultan is a senior partner at Reckenen, which provides compliance and assurance services to privately held corporations

About Author

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