How To BYOD And Remain Secure

How To BYOD And Remain Secure

We increasingly live in a bring your own device (BYOD) world. Given the choice between your smooth shiny new contract smartphone and some dumbphone horror on a rubbish network, why would you pick the inferior work-supplied option? That’s fine, but make sure your device stays secure by following these simple guidelines.

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For the purposes of this discussion, we’re presuming that you’re not working in an environment where BYOD is completely blocked and you have zero discretion about what you use, where specific technologies to enable BYOD are mandated, or where a core part of your job is setting up BYOD policies. We’re also assuming that you’re happy with the rarely-discussed BYOD compromise: that you’re paying for services you might reasonably expect your boss to pay for. With that said, let’s look at the simple steps you can take to ensure a more secure experience.

Spend Time Educating Yourself

An unsupported device is just that: unsupported. No matter what you think of your workplace IT policies, complaining about them will not get your problems solved. If you want to use your own device, you need to accept that the onus is on you to work out how to solve any issues that arise. In an era of near-universal search engine access, this won’t necessarily be a difficult task, but it’s a responsibility you have to accept.

Accept That Not Everything Will Work

The odds are good you’ll be able to get onto a work network using Wi-Fi; you may find mobile versions of other apps you often use; browser-based access will cover lots of other scenarios; and remote desktop will handle problematic apps. But even with all those approaches, highly-secured office environments are likely to have some apps that simply won’t work on your shiny new tablet. Rather than trying to break those systems open, focus on what you can do. If you can’t access finance systems on your new device, you’ll have to stick with the work machine. But if you have access to email, you’re still ahead of the game.

Follow Good Password Practice

No, passwords aren’t perfect — but setting even the most rudimentary password is a big improvement on having none at all. Make sure you avoid common password mistakes. In particular: make sure you have an overriding password for your phone/tablet/laptop, and make sure that you have unique individual passwords for any crucial apps. That minimises the risk of confidential information leaking.

Set Up Remote Wipe Options

Passwords should protect you, but you can’t be sure that a misplaced device won’t be cracked. If you set up remote wipe, you’ll be able to reassure your annoyed manager that no information has fallen into the wrong hands. Your options will vary depending on your device type, but it’s a good principle to follow no matter what you use.

Lifehacker 101 is a weekly feature covering fundamental techniques that Lifehacker constantly refers to, explaining them step-by-step. Hey, we were all newbies once, right?


  • In order for BYOD to work, employees must be able to understand that the hard drive isn’t the actual computer itself. If you’re employment is like this then BYOD will fail no matter how hard you try.

  • The only way BYOD is going to work is with virtualisation, a encypted additional image that runs ontop of your home use OS, keeps corporate happy with complience ticks and the ability to ensure data cannot fall into the wrong hands without significant effort or without beating the pwd out of the owner.

  • You have to differentiate between PC/laptops and Phones/Tablets. The former has to integrate with all you organisations management software (patching, virus scanning everything), the latter is primarily the responsibility of the end user. The device must meet some enforcable security policies (passcode, remote wipe etc.) and only gets access to a discreet set up services (email, calendar, notes, contacts). Hopefully things like evernote for business and a similar dropbox-like application of forthcoming soon!

    Joeyjoejoe: I agree for PCs/Laptops the best method making available is by having a virtual desktop. A cludge I’ve used is to get my cool Apple on the network and then RDP to my Windows desktop.

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