By Pat Barnes, Product Manager for Applications and Security
Ah, BYOD. How I love thee.
BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device”, gives me choices. I can use a device at work I actually like and am most effective with. (How did I ever get by without my iPad?)
But BYOD comes with challenges. Personal devices can be infected with malware. Once they’re connected to an enterprise’s network, they can be controlled by a bot master to hijack enterprise resources and wreak havoc as part of a botnet. The biggest risk is data exfiltration which can have serious consequences: loss of valuable intellectual property, unauthorized disclosure of personal and confidential information, and more.
Having mentioned bot masters and botnets, here’s a primer on what these terms are. Many cyber criminals employ bot networks, commonly known as “botnets”, as the instrument of choice to implement their malicious activities. Bots are simply software that runs autonomously over the Internet. Devices can be infected with malware that operates as a “bot”, autonomously exploiting the network to conduct malicious activities. A botnet is a collection of bots in the control of a cyber criminal (the “bot master”). Botnets are used by cyber criminals for a variety of malicious purposes. For example, they might rent their botnet to perform distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against websites or they’re tasked with penetrating enterprise defenses and looking for valuable data. Bot masters control botnets by providing them with instructions that dictate the malicious activities the bot undertakes. Bots receive instructions by communicating with a server controlled by the bot master, known as command and control (C&C).
What can an enterprise do? Should BYOD be banned? Not without revolt, likely. In part two I’ll discuss a DNS-based approach you can use to reduce the risks of allowing BYOD on your network.