The shift to remote work during the pandemic brought with it a more relaxed approach to how employers view the idea of employees using their own devices.

It is likely that as workers begin returning to the workplace, they may be able to keep using their own devices. While there are certainly some pros to using their own devices, employees should be aware of the possible risks and how to avoid them.

The recent BYOD Security Report from Bitglass shows that 47% of organizations report an increase of personal devices being used for work during the pandemic. As a result, 82% of organizations said they now actively enable bring your own device (BYOD) to work to some extent.

The use of personal devices has certainly helped businesses improve employee productivity and satisfaction. BYOD also reduces costs because using your own device has meant employees are no longer tethered to desks and employers don’t have to invest in expensive hardware.

But do you know the challenges associated with managing device access and the mobile security issues that can put your and your company’s credentials at risk?

Risks When You BYOD

All those devices that employees bring to the job can get lost, stolen or hacked. That’s a huge problem if the employees have been using those devices to carry out their workplace tasks. This can cost a company millions of dollars if those stolen or lost devices end up in crooked hands.

According to the Bitglass survey, 62% of respondents cite the most critical concern as data leakage or loss.  Another 54% of the respondents cite employees downloading unsafe apps or content as second on their list of concerns. The survey also finds 53% said lost or stolen devices is a major concern, and 51% said unauthorized access to company data and systems is a possible problem.

Not securing personal devices can put personal credentials and company data at risk.

How to Protect You and Your Company’s Data

If you are using your own device for work, here are some tips to consider:

1. Think carefully about whether to use a personal electronic device for work purposes. Read your work’s BYOD policy thoroughly. Consider whether any potential privacy compromises are worth taking on in order to use a personal device at work. Not participating in BYOD is the best way to keep the private information on a personal device private, but it might be less convenient.

2. If it’s feasible, it might make sense to have two separate personal devices – one purely for work purposes and one for everything else. The drawback here is that it can be costly, especially if your employer is not covering the costs. Still, if you can foot the bill, opting to separate personal activity from work activity on individual devices significantly limits the risk a data breach can have on your personal information.

3. Mobile device owners should familiarize themselves with any settings that impact privacy or security. These include, but are not limited to, Bluetooth sharing, automatically connecting to Wi-Fi networks, location-based services and available security settings. Also, consider restricting others from using the device. You should also password protect certain apps or functionalities on the device.

4. You should back up important personal data stored on your devices, such as photos, videos, music, etc. It is always a good idea to back up important data. If you participate in a BYOD program, you have added incentives to back up personal data if your company has the ability to remotely wipe data from a device.

If you’re concerned about an employer accessing certain personal data, you may also want to periodically delete data from the device and transfer it somewhere more private.