Mobile Device Security in Today’s Mobile World

Smartphones and tablets have become the norm in the way we communicate. From banking to social media, consumers expect everything to be mobile-integrated. This mobile wave has moved beyond the consumer space to the workplace. Employees are now accessing their work remotely, allowing them to be able to work anywhere at any time, and more organizations are embracing mobile working on a daily basis—35% of the workforce is mobile, according to a recent IDC study. And when you pair the proliferation of mobile devices with widely available Wi-Fi, bring your own device (BYOD) becomes the way the enterprise works—shaping an always-on, highly mobile workforce that can be dramatically more responsive than those of past generations.

However, untethering the workplace and giving end users unparalleled freedom to work from anywhere forces organizations to create secure ways of delivering sensitive data across a range of mobile devices. To mitigate mobile  risk, protect the corporate network and adhere to regulatory standards, companies must have sound mobile device and virtualized app security, based on best practices and extensive technology solutions.

By leveraging multiple platforms, mobile device security management can be assured. By extending Network Access Control (NAC) capabilities to wireless network controllers and access points, organizations can view information about wireless devices connected to the enterprise network. This way, untrusted or unknown devices can be blocked from accessing the network. Once the NAC has been integrated with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform, registered and managed devices can be checked for security and compliance, and continuous, real-time endpoint evaluation can be assured.

Adding Contextual Security

Adding contextual security to the NAC/MDM combination allows organizations to manage device functionality based upon location. Network and application availability can be restricted when a device is in a sensitive or dangerous location. Where appropriate, applications or personalized information can be provided dynamically to the user depending on the user’s proximity to objects, products, or machinery.

With a growing number of malicious apps available for download, an MDM may be made stronger by integrating with an application security platform that can allow or deny a download based upon its characteristics and behaviors. This can be accomplished by populating the MDM white and black lists on a real-time basis.

The Importance of Multi Factor Authentication

Finally, with more and more mobile devices accessing enterprise data, assuring the identity and enforcing privilege levels of mobile users is vitally important. Introducing strong and multi-factor authentication (i.e., something you have/card or token, something you know/password or PIN, something you are/biometrics) that is managed via the MDM guarantees that only the right individuals are granted network and application access. Through the use of smartcards (with built-in processor chips)— read via attached card readers, Near-Field Communications (NFC) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons, organizations can now deploy Single Sign-On (SSO), secure email and VPN functionality based upon advanced encryption (e.g., PKI) techniques.

While it is clear that mobile device usage in general greatly impacts the workplace (through improved productivity, customer support, and streamlined communication), and that BYOD provides the added benefit of lower capital expenditure and reduced IT support needs, organizations need to carefully and thoughtfully solve the security challenges. A multi-faceted and integrated security approach can ensure that all goals can be achieved in a secure manner.