Mobile Security: Deciphering Corporate-Owned vs. BYOD Strategies

By Dr. Jerry Craig | May 7, 2024
Jerry is Ntiva’s Sr. Director of Security and CISO, offering more than 20 years in the IT and cybersecurity industry. Certified CISO, CISSP and CCSP, Jerry also serves part-time as Adjunct Professor in the University of Maryland Global Campus.

As mobile technology takes over our daily lives, the boundaries between work and personal tech are fading fast, posing fresh challenges and decisions for businesses everywhere.

How should companies tackle mobile security?

Would they be better off controlling all devices through corporate ownership, or should they opt for the flexibility of allowing employees to use their own devices?

Each approach has its own set of perks and consequences, and we're diving deep into each one. Whether you're considering corporate-owned assets or contemplating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, continue reading as we walk through the essential elements of securing mobile devices in a corporate setting.

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Corporate-Owned Devices (COD) vs. BYOD: Understanding Your Choices

Mobile Device Cybersecurity

When it comes to mobile device management in the workplace, businesses typically choose between two main models: Corporate-Owned Devices (COD) and Bring-Your-Own Device (BYOD). Each approach offers distinct advantages and poses unique challenges, shaping the landscape of mobile security and employee interaction in fundamentally different ways. Here's a quick overview: 

Corporate-Owned Devices (COD)

What is COD? Corporate-owned devices are mobile devices fully purchased and controlled by the company for employee use. This approach mirrors the way a company might manage laptops or workstations. 

Enhanced Control: The company maintains strict control over device configurations and security settings, ensuring consistency across the board. Higher Costs: This method can be costly as it requires significant upfront investment in hardware and ongoing costs for maintenance and updates.
Uniform Security Measures: With identical security protocols on all devices, managing and monitoring security is streamlined. Longer Deployment Times: Setting up and deploying these devices can be time-consuming due to extensive configurations and security measures.
Easier Compliance: Adhering to industry regulations is more straightforward when devices are uniform and company-controlled. Management of Multiple Devices: Employees may need to carry both personal and corporate devices, complicating device management and user satisfaction.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

What is BYOD? In the BYOD model, employees use their personal devices for both work and personal tasks. This approach leverages existing personal devices to reduce company costs and simplify device management.

Lower Initial Costs: Companies save on the immediate expense of purchasing hardware, as employees use their own devices. Reduced Control: Securing a variety of personal devices poses significant challenges, as the company does not own or control the device hardware.
Quicker Deployment: Integration can be faster since devices do not require extensive setup before they are ready for work use. Varied Tech Stacks: Employees may use different types of devices and operating systems, making it difficult to implement uniform security measures.
Reduced Device Management: The responsibility for maintaining and updating devices largely falls to the employees, easing the IT department’s workload. Dependence on Personal Device Security: The effectiveness of security measures depends heavily on how well employees maintain their own device security.


Choosing COD vs. BYOD: What's Your Strategy?

Deciding between Corporate-Owned Devices (COD) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies isn't just about preference—it's about aligning your company's technology approach with its operational goals and challenges. Each option brings distinct advantages and drawbacks that can significantly impact day-to-day business operations. Let’s examine the practical implications of these strategies to better understand which might suit your enterprise's needs.

Corporate-Owned Devices (COD): Strategic Considerations

Opting for COD is like choosing to build a fortress around your data, particularly in industries like finance, healthcare, and government, where regulations leave no room for error. Here's why some companies take this high-security route:

  • Managing security is more straightforward when all devices are uniform and company-owned, which is crucial in high-stakes environments where data breaches can have severe consequences.
  • Having the same devices and software company-wide can simplify IT management and employee training, leading to a more integrated work environment.
  • It’s easier to enforce compliance with strict industry regulations when you control the entire hardware and software environment.

However, these advantages come at a cost, including the initial purchase and ongoing maintenance of devices, and potential pushback from employees who may prefer their personal devices.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): Strategic Considerations

For its cost-effectiveness and flexibility, BYOD is popular among startups, educational entities, and sectors with fewer regulatory demands. Reasons for choosing BYOD include:

  • By avoiding major hardware investments and ongoing maintenance costs, the cost savings can be redirected towards other strategic areas.
  • Employees often appreciate the freedom to use their own devices, which they’re already comfortable and familiar with, potentially leading to increased productivity.
  • BYOD offers adaptability to staffing changes without the logistical challenges of supplying new hardware.

Choosing between COD and BYOD boils down to how well they fit a company’s security needs, operational requirements, and company culture. For those prioritizing ironclad security and consistency, COD might be the way to go.

Advanced Security Strategies for COD and BYOD Environments

Cell phone security

Managing corporate-owned devices or embracing employee-owned devices in BYOD policies requires customized approaches to maintain strong security standards while prioritizing user experience and privacy. Here are some advanced strategies that we recommend:

For Corporate-Owned Devices (COD):

In keeping corporate-owned devices safe and sound, businesses should deploy a range of top-notch security measures crafted to shield sensitive data and tackle risks head-on. These include:

  • Remote Wipe Capabilities: These capabilities give organizations the power to remotely wipe out sensitive data on lost or stolen devices, preventing unauthorized access attempts.
  • Use of Biometrics: Boosting security with fingerprint scanning or facial recognition, guaranteeing that only authorized individuals can unlock and access devices.
  • Strong Encryption: Encrypting all stored data on devices to render it unreadable to unauthorized users, preserving data integrity and confidentiality.
  • Geo-fencing/Geo-Blocking: This restricts device functionality to predefined geographical locations, automatically locking or wiping devices if they stray beyond specified zones.
  • Location Finding: This feature facilitates swift device tracking and recovery in cases of misplacement, loss, or theft, adding an additional layer of security.

For Bring Your Own Device (BYOD):

The BYOD game brings a whole new level of security challenges to the table, calling for customized strategies to safeguard corporate data while honoring employee privacy and device independence. Key security essentials for BYOD setups include:

  • Advanced Anti-Virus Platforms: Implementing advanced anti-virus platforms is essential, ensuring the installation of sophisticated software to protect against malware, ransomware, and other cyber threats comprehensively.
  • Mandated Use of VPNs: Ensuring secure data transmission by recommending the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), especially when employees access corporate resources over unsecured public networks.
  • Implementing GPOs and Policies to Manage Data Usage: Implementing Group Policy Objects (GPOs) and policies to manage data usage on personal devices, setting guidelines to prevent the unauthorized transfer of sensitive information and reduce the risk of data breaches.
  • Zero Trust Solutions: Implementing a "zero trust" security model that treats every access attempt as potentially fishy, demanding verification from all users and devices trying to access corporate resources.
  • Log Aggregation into a SIEM: Digging into and analyzing device logs to stay ahead of security events and spot potential threats, setting the stage for quick incident response and resolution.

By deploying these advanced security strategies, organizations can fortify their mobile security posture, effectively safeguarding sensitive data and mitigating risks in both corporate-owned and BYOD environments.

CTA-Mobile Device Security

How To Choose The Right Mobile Device Strategy: 3 Questions You Need To Ask!

Picking the perfect mobile device strategy is crucial for any organization. It's more than just picking out devices; it's about syncing your strategy with the bigger business goals, security stance, and operational requirements. Here are three key questions to consider that will steer you in the right direction:

1. What Are Your Business Needs And Security Requirements? 

Think about how each approach boosts your business operations and efficiency. Which option drives better productivity and collaboration?

Evaluate the level of security needed based on your business's risk profile. Corporate-owned devices offer more control and easier security, while BYOD brings in some variability that may not align with strict security requirements.

2. What Are The Cost Implications and Employee Preferences?Take a deep dive into the financial implications of each option. While COD may require a significant upfront investment and ongoing maintenance costs, BYOD could cut down on initial expenses but lead to higher management and security expenses down the line.

Don't forget to take into account employee preferences and how each policy fits within your company culture. While BYOD can boost employee satisfaction by allowing them to use their own devices, it may also raise concerns about privacy and the blurred lines between personal and work use.

3. What Are Your Regulatory Compliance and Data Protection Needs?

Check out the rules and regulations in your industry. Some sectors might require stricter controls, which COD can handle better due to its uniformity and consistency.

Make sure the policy you pick aligns with your data protection strategies. Consider how each option affects your ability to safeguard sensitive information and comply with data protection laws like GDPR or HIPAA.

BYOD or COD: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Solutions

Navigating the waters of mobile security strategies, especially with BYOD policies, can be a bit of a challenge.  While standardized hardware and software setups make COD deployment a breeze, it's crucial to focus on access controls and data security for BYOD. Tackling the diverse range of devices with MDM(Mobile Device Management) and MAM systems is key.

Don't forget to address any employee pushback with effective communication and training. Setting minimum device requirements is a must, along with utilizing encrypted workspaces for data segregation and offering VPNs for added security. Keep policies clear and monitoring to a minimum to strike the right balance between security and user-friendliness. And always stay on top of assessing and educating on security risks stemming from personal apps and behaviors.

Securing Your Mobile Technology in a Connected World

As companies wade through the intricacies of mobile security, deciding between corporate-owned devices and BYOD policies becomes a strategic move that not only affects IT infrastructure but also employee happiness and corporate governance.

By diving deep into the organization's unique needs, grasping the risks at hand, and staying dedicated to continuous education and policy enforcement, companies can fortify their security measures that not only boosts business operations but also foster a culture of security mindfulness and compliance.

Remember, prioritizing mobile security isn't just about protecting devices—it's about safeguarding your company's future and empowering your employees to work confidently wherever they go.

Tags: Cybersecurity