Sharing BYODs with family is risky business

Abandon rigid perimeter security if your organisation intends to embrace IT consumerisation.

Employees who share their Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) work tools with family are one of dozens of risks organisations should consider before embracing the consumerisation of IT, the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) says in a new report.

ENISA puts employees sharing work devices with family and friends alongside a malicious attacker who gains access to the device through social engineering since in each case a non-authorized person has gained access to corporate assets.

“Through improper use of such services, users may neglect existing security policies and transfer company information outside the security domain, thus enabling access to non-authorized individuals,” ENISA points out.

ENISA outlines 11 risk categories organisations face by attempting to harness the products of IT consumerisation in its new report "Consumerization of IT: Top Risks and Opportunities: Responding to the Evolving Threat Environment"

These risks covered include consumer cloud computing, social media, drop boxes, browser data and applications installed on BYOD mobile devices, which can impact management costs, compliance and data security.

While ENISA identifies several opportunities, including improved productivity and employee satisfaction, the additional cost of managing a more complex environment may outweigh the benefits of adopting consumerisation.

“Increased variety and complexity of devices, systems and applications, all requiring management, will lead to increased costs,” ENISA points out.

These include mobile device management (MDM) solutions, investments to protect data and comply with the law as well as the cost of supporting BYOD employees.

Consumer technology is also dynamic, ENISA argues, and could put the organisation on a path of “continuous adaptation and revision of policies”, such as how to define the perimeter.

To foster IT consumerisation the organisation’s security architecture should be “device-agnostic” in order to avoid security policies stifling the appropriate adoption of consumer technologies.

“This means abandoning rigid perimeter security and introducing end-to-end security that dynamically adapts to the characteristics of the user-owned device. It also means finding the balance between policies that are too liberal to deliver good security and policies that are too rigid to allow effective support,” ENISA states.

“To achieve this implies significant enhancement of existing security policies while, at the same time increasing the understanding and ability of users through investment in security education and awareness training.”

Manage user actions on consumer IT “components” also becomes more difficult, posing a number of legal and regulatory risks.

“This includes the resolution of security incidents: businesses might have difficulties in managing an incident if no access to all parts of the consumer IT component is granted,” ENISA warns.

“[B]usinesses will struggle to enforce compliance on consumer devices and services that are not under their ownership.”

Organisations will also find it difficult to enforce policy on BYOD, such as HR policies regarding teleworking and working hours.

The blurring of the line between work and personal data and devices could also pose problems in e-discovery and “may lead to litigation with employees”, ENISA warns.

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