IoT, endpoint and mobile security – the effects of BYOD on Cybersecurity

Several industries and IT personnel have come to terms
with the modern day approach of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), as they strive to
make operations more and more flexible, efficient and seamless, addressing
every possible challenge that could hinder the workflow in any way. Companies
are adopting workplace mobility practices amidst the proliferation of modern
technology and the increasing number of connected devices that people are using
in their day-to-day routine. Permission to use own mobile devices at the
workplace and the growing network of IoT devices is leading to the expansion of
network with an increasing number of endpoints. It has become imperative for
the companies to have befitting cybersecurity policies and a robust endpoint
security solution that best suits their work model and ensures a safe haven for
the business critical processes and data.

But before defining cybersecurity policies around BYOD
and mobile devices and IoT devices, one should be clear with the distinctions
between mobile device management and endpoint security. They should profile the
IoT and mobile devices to understand the different operating systems they use,
the functions they are capable of performing and the actual utility of them for
the business. This will help in defining policies that can effectively control
the use of such devices at the workplace as well as outside the work premises
for work purposes.

As per a report by Crystal Market Research, the global
BYOD market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 15.38% between 2012 and 2022 and
reach USD 318.41 billion in 2022.[1]This
trend, often labelled as IT consumerisation, is here to stay, as more and more
companies adopt BYOD model, allowing employees to carry their own devices and
connect them with the organisational network to access important business data
and applications for work purposes.

While BYOD is increasingly touted as an excellent business model, well suited for improving workplace flexibility and productivity; however, it has a significant impact on the IT structure of an enterprise.

Some of the major impacts of BYOD on a company’s cybersecurity setup are as follows:

IT infrastructure

More and more owned portable devices like laptops,
tablets and smartphones brought by employees to offices significantly expands
the network as they serve as new endpoints to the network. These personal
devices have to be connected to the company’s IT infrastructure for which the
IT team has to identify the employees’ mobile devices that they’ll be using to
access the corporate data and then make necessary adjustments to the company’s
IT setup to accommodate them.

Companies are also required to audit these devices to
ensure that they align with the company’s security stipulations and device
policies, and all this work increases the IT management costs of the company.

risk of data leakage

More and more personal devices used for work purposes
increase the number of endpoints on the company’s IT network. Presence of
multiple endpoints makes it difficult to monitor the activities on each device
and tackle malicious programmes or users that try to gain unauthorised access
to such devices and thereby the IT infrastructure. This escalates the threat of
cybersecurity breach and data leakage.

Mobile devices are considered the weakest link to a
company’s security framework. They need to be constantly updated with the
latest security patch to cover any type of loopholes and stay protected from
any type of malware or virus attack or any unauthorised access. Employees are
as much responsible for ensuring the security of their own mobile devices and
should see to it that their devices are password protected and updated with
latest software and security patches. The employees and companies are both
responsible for reviewing a mobile device’s compliance with the security

personal data and corporate data

Devices carried as part of the BYOD model have both
corporate and personal data, which makes the loss or theft of such devices a
riskier affair.

Companies should take the initiative to back up the
essential corporate data present on the device in order to retrieve the data in
case of a technical glitch, cybersecurity breach or theft or loss of the

Companies can encourage containerisation, which helps
in isolating business content in its own workspace thereby keeping the business
information secure while still allowing the employees to use their devices for
personal as well as work purposes. The approach also helps the company to
safely remove the business-related information from the user’s device when the
employee exits the company.


Personal mobile devices bring security risks along
with them as they reduce a corporate’s control over data. As the employees use
these devices for personal purposes, they tend to download data –sometimes
rogue or malicious in nature- or access certain unsecure third-party
applications or connect to public Wi-Fi spots thereby exposing the device to
considerable security threats.

These devices can carry corrupt/malicious programmes
and once the device is connected to a corporate network, the malicious
programme can spread to the company’s network of systems if there are
inadequate intrusion detection or endpoint security systems. Such
vulnerabilities can cause serious data compromise and obstruct the natural
course of workflow.

infiltration of malware

If an employee installs malware unknowingly and
connects the device to the organisation’s network, the malware can easily
infiltrate the network. Now the likelihood of such an easy mistake is high,
with users accessing a disparate range of websites and apps on their personal
devices for various tasks. Once a mobile device is corrupted by a malicious
file, it won’t take long for the rogue programme to spread across and this can
cause serious damage if the attack remains unchecked.

Companies should deploy robust intrusion detection and endpoint security systems and update anti-malware, anti-virus and security patches regularly across the organisation’s IT network and systems connected to it.

In the third quarter of 2017, McAfee Labs identified more than 16 million mobile malware infestations, indicating almost two-fold increase on a year-on-year basis.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of organisations are
accommodating IoT devices into their networks in the form of smart devices like
smart electronic locks, smart lights, smart thermostats and even connected
coffee makers. These innocent-looking smart devices can convolute the endpoint
network of an organisation, exposing the vulnerabilities of a corporate’s
security defence framework. These IoT devices are connected to a company’s IT
infrastructure but rarely have enough security programmes built in within them
to offer protection against any breach or unauthorised manipulations. This way,
they are easily discoverable on the internet and offer hackers with easy access
points to a company’s IT infrastructure.

In an interesting case, a simple, Internet-connected
fish tank was used by hackers to funnel out data from a North American casino.
The fish tank’s sensors were connected to a computer system that regulated the
tank’s cleanliness, food and temperature. They used this fish tank, which was
not secured adequately, as a gateway to enter the casino’s network, as the tank
was connected to the same network as the computers and other systems of the
casino. The hackers managed to move into other parts of the network and sent 10
GB of data to a device in Finland.

This is just one case among several other IoT
breaches, and exposes the security risks associated with IoT devices.

According to a study by digital security company
Gemalto, only 48% of businesses are capable of detecting if any of their IoT
devices have been breached.[2] This is alarming, considering the
fact that the number of connected devices is set to reach 75.44 billion by

To tackle such security threats, companies should lay
clear rules and policies regarding which devices could and could not be
connected to office networks. IoT devices with inadequate easy-to-patch
firmware and update schedules should not be allowed to be connected to the
corporate network at all, while employees, who are one of the critical attack
vectors, should be encouraged to follow all the data and cyber security rules.

It is essential for the companies to have proper
device management protocols and endpoint security systems as the workplace
network gets more complicated with the addition of BYOD and IoT devices.





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Original article: IoT, endpoint and mobile security – the effects of BYOD on Cybersecurity
Author: IoTNews