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Mobile Security: With Greater Access Come Greater Threats, and Opportunity

Posted by Bruce Gilroy on Jul 18, 2017 12:32:11 PM

mobile securityIf you’ve been listening to the industry analysts you are probably aware of the rapid growth trajectory for enterprise mobility. Mobility is one of the fastest-growing segments of the enterprise technology market. IT spending on mobility-related products, projects, and initiatives is expected to grow from 25% of IT budgets in 2015 to 40% of large enterprise IT budgets in 2018. It is an area that is growing very rapidly, both in strategic importance for enterprises, as well as IT spend and market opportunity for the channel.

And it only makes sense - more businesses and employees are working outside of the office and relying on mobile devices to get the job done, the need for mobile access to corporate systems, services and data is becoming a necessity for most organizations. But while the competitive advantages, productivity gains and employee satisfaction levels are clearly defined, security remains a big challenge when it comes to mobility.

Ten years ago, as the first iPhone was about to be released into a BlackBerry world, enterprise mobility was largely about providing access to corporate email on an employee’s phone and ensuring they had WiFi connectivity for their corporate owned/managed laptop. Today, we’re talking about multiple devices (phones, tablets, laptops) with various operating systems (Windows, iOS, Android), whatever people want to use. And we’re not just focusing on email and email apps, now we’re talking about opening up access to the corporate network and enterprise services, applications and data to these disparate, often employee-owned devices.

Speaking of employee owned devices, over the last few years there has been a lot of momentum around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Everyone seems to want to use their own device, to the extent that, according to IDC almost 70% of employees will use their own devices regardless of company policy – if they can get away with it. One particularly concerning statistic is that approximately 50% of organizations that have deployed BYOD, did so without putting any BYOD policy in place. A staggering 37% of organizations have experienced a breach or data loss directly attributed to their mobile technology. So mobile security remains a huge factor that needs to be managed very deliberately and comprehensively. With new security threats targeting mobile users, we have to balance the need to enable employee productivity and agility with the need to manage multiple device types and control access to corporate services, applications and content.

Effective mobile security starts with policy. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, with organizations facing increasing pressure to provide more access to corporate systems, services and data, mobility policy is an area that can get overlooked. Many companies, seeing their employees accessing corporate services or data on their mobile devices, or facing significant demand to do so, scrambled to implement a BYOD solution without really building a deliberate, comprehensive mobility policy.

Organizations need to define the scope and objectives of their mobility policy. Who gets access to what, and when? What devices will be supported, what applications and content will be mobilized? Additionally, this needs to be as consistent and seamless as possible across the organization. Ideally, your customers want their mobility policy to be an extension of their business strategies and broader technology, security and compliance policies. This is an area where a lot of organizations are struggling today. Many times they don’t even realize they have gaps until someone starts asking questions and engaging them in a conversation around their mobile security policy and strategy.

Some of the key considerations:

  • The network – Help customers embrace a mobile-first approach to the network. Make sure your customer’s wireless infrastructure can handle the increasing traffic, connections and bandwidth demands. Understand the need to balance coverage and density as we incorporate upgraded mobile capabilities into the network, such as location services.
  • Users – User training and awareness is critical. Businesses need to ensure their employees are trained and regularly reminded about the security threats targeting mobile users. BYOD is popular with employees, so embrace it if you can (understanding some organizations have regulatory and compliance constraints). Just make sure your customers are incorporating Identity and Access Management (IAM) into your Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution.
  • Devices – Deploy a good Mobile Device Management (MDM)/EMM solution, ideally one that can manage full Windows and Mac operating systems along with mobile devices. Unified endpoint management can be a big efficiency/productivity driver and makes the job simpler for IT.
  • Applications – Run a good EMM solution that can manage corporate applications and content, encapsulating all corporate apps, content and data in a secure container. Also consider whether there are some legacy applications that may be better served up via Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to endpoint devices rather than trying to mobilize an application that will likely encounter degraded performance or functionality.
  • Data – At the risk of being redundant, a good EMM solution is critical, along with IAM. It’s also usually a good idea to encrypt corporate data on mobile devices.

When you can connect a customer’s business objectives with relevant policy discussions and technology solutions, you can accelerate buying decisions and often increase the size and scope of mobility opportunities. It also helps position you as a trusted advisor for your customers.

Tech Data provides a wide breadth of solutions and expertise across all areas of mobile security which enables partners to deliver complete mobility security solutions that incorporates end-to-end security solutions across the entire mobility landscape. To learn about our mobility offerings and capabilities available for our partners, or please contact our Mobility Specialist Business Unit at Mobility-SBU@techdata.com.

Tags: Security, Mobile, Mobility, Mobile Security, Technologies, BYoD, EMM, Enterprise Mobility Management, Mobile Device Management, Security Services