Bring Your Own Personal Computer (BYOPC), an endpoint deployment strategy that allows company employees to work from their personal computers, is a natural outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic when companies lacked the resources necessary to support a remote workforce that suddenly came to be.
However, even post-pandemic, many organizations continue to see the value of remote and hybrid work arrangements and allow employees to work from personally owned devices. BYOPC can decrease IT costs, improve employee satisfaction and retention, and streamline the employee onboarding process. As a result, many organizations are embracing BYOPC to support employees working both remotely and from the office.
However, embracing BYOPC also has its downsides and challenges. One of the most significant of these is ensuring remote work security.
The Advantages of BYOPC
Many organizations are embracing BYOPC policies as part of their hybrid and remote work strategies. One of the main drivers for this is the numerous benefits that BYOPC brings for an organization and its employees, which include the following:
- Decreased Cost: A BYOPC program transfers the costs of purchasing and configuring employee devices from the company to its employees. This can reduce the organization’s IT costs.
- Corporate Agility and Scalability: Acquiring, configuring, and distributing new devices can be a time-consuming process that delays employee onboarding and the launch of new initiatives. Allowing employees to work from personal devices eliminates this ramp-up time and improves corporate agility and scalability.
- Employee Satisfaction and Retention: The ability to work from personal computers tends to have a positive impact on employee morale. If an organization can securely implement BYOPC, it may improve employee job satisfaction and retention.
- Improved Productivity: A BYOPC policy enables employees to use their preferred devices for work. Since these devices are familiar and configured based on the employee’s preferences, allowing BYOPC can improve productivity.
The Security Challenges of BYOPC
BYOPC can bring significant benefits to companies and employees alike. Allowing employees to work from personal computers is a logical choice when those same employees are working remotely or on a hybrid schedule that moves them between corporate and home offices.
However, the benefits that BYOPC provides must also be balanced against the associated security risks and challenges. Some of the main workplace security challenges associated with BYOPC include the following:
- Security Visibility: With BYOPC, an organization doesn’t own the devices that employees are working from and using to access potentially sensitive corporate data and applications. As a result, an organization may struggle to achieve the level of visibility required to protect itself and its data against cyber threats.
- Data Control: A BYOPC policy likely allows employees to download corporate data to personally-owned devices as part of their work duties. The company has decreased control over corporate data stored on personally-owned devices, increasing the risk of data breach by an external threat actor or current or departing employee and creating challenges for corporate regulatory compliance.
- Infected Devices: The personally-owned devices that employees work from may not be compliant with corporate security policies regarding updates, use of corporate endpoint security solutions, and acceptable use. As a result, these devices are more likely to be infected with malware, which can place corporate data, systems, and applications at risk.
- Infrastructure Complexity: A company with a BYOPC program may have each employee working from a different brand or type of personal computer. This increases the complexity of ensuring that these devices are secure and responding to potential security incidents.
- Lost and Stolen Devices: Personal computers used for work are more likely to be transported and used in public spaces where the potential for loss or theft is greater. If this occurs, corporate data stored on or accessible from these devices may be exposed to an attacker.
- Unauthorized Access: Employees shouldn’t allow third parties (family, friends, etc.) access to corporate PCs, but the same is not true for personally-owned devices used for work. As a result, these third parties may have access to devices containing corporate data and may take actions on these devices that increase the risk of malware infections and other cyberattacks.
- Departing Employees: Companies commonly reclaim and wipe company-owned devices surrendered by employees when they are departing the organization. With BYOPC, the computers that employees use for work belong to them, making it more difficult for organizations to ensure that any sensitive data or applications are removed from them upon departure.
Managing the Security Risks of BYOPC with Venn
While a BYO-PC program can provide major benefits to an organization and its employees, it also creates significant workplace security risks and challenges.
Many of these security challenges arise from the fact that corporate data and applications are stored on and accessible from a system that is not owned by the organization. This forces a careful balance between implementing the monitoring and security that the business needs and respecting the privacy and ownership of the employee whose personal computer it is.
Venn overcomes the security challenges of BYOPC by eliminating this tension between the needs of the organization and its employees. Venn software creates a secure enclave on employee devices that is isolated from the rest of the system. Within the enclave, corporate security personnel can monitor and manage security settings, encrypt data stored on the device, and ensure that connections to corporate applications and systems are secured by a VPN connection. However, an employee’s personal use of the device outside of the secure enclave is invisible to the organization, and a malware infection caused by personal use doesn’t place corporate data at risk.
With the growth of remote and hybrid work, BYOPC is the logical choice for an organization and its employees. With Venn, companies can eliminate the security risks of BYOPC while protecting the privacy of employees’ personal use of their devices.
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