The marriage of mobile devices to the workforce has been more of a shotgun wedding than a cautiously choreographed courtship. In fact, according to a recent study conducted for Unisys by International Data Corp, the rapidly growing use of smartphones and tablets within the enterprise has overwhelmed IT and security managers, as they struggle to support these consumer technologies and mitigate risk. While CIO’s recognize that the majority of employees consider mobile devices to be their most critical tools for doing work, 83 percent of IT respondents cited “security concerns” as the greatest barrier preventing them from comfortably embracing this trend.
Greater Productivity, Greater Risk
There is no denying that mobile devices are transforming business, with the potential to dramatically increase productivity, revenue and ultimately employee morale. Yet, with every new application deployed and platform supported, the burden placed upon IT to successfully manage wireless assets increases substantially.
According to a 2010 report by Ovum, eight out of ten CIO’s believe that smartphones heighten organizational vulnerability, either through interception of data in transit or from a lost or stolen device. As a result, securing sensitive data in the mobile enterprise is their top concern. Whether an organization has an individually liable mobile policy, a corporate liable one, or a mixture of both, making wireless security a top priority is a must. Educating employees about mobile security should be one of the first steps a company takes. However, without a comprehensive mobile device management (MDM) and security solution in place, a mobile governance policy alone is ineffectual.
While there are numerous steps that enterprises should take to secure mobile devices, the following best practices can help organizations track data across their wireless networks in order to prevent unauthorized access or malware attacks to sensitive company information.
Best Practices for Enterprise Mobile Device Security:
- Identify all mobile devices and maintain inventory management to ensure that no unauthorized devices obtain connection to the network;
- Add on-device password and over-the-air data encryption to enforce authentication when the device is cycled-on and ensure that data exchange is fully protected ;
- Enable remote device kill and data deletion allowing administrators to clear all data and settings on lost or stolen devices;
- Separate personal and enterprise information, enabling IT to secure, control and erase corporate data and applications without adversely impacting personal photos, music, games or email;
- Provide updated and automatic antivirus, firewall protection and remote delivery of security patch updates;
- Utilize a management client application that users can download to keep their mobile devices in compliance and limit introduction of malware through spam and unauthorized apps; and
- Allow IT to control exactly what data users can access with their mobile devices, including back-office systems, formalized user groups and blocked access to devices that don’t have a management client installed.
Robust security tools that can remotely encrypt and manage data, along with the ability to control access rights on any device that attempts to connect to the enterprise network are becoming imperative for effective mobile device management (MDM). Whether choosing to manage mobile device security by partnering with a wireless expense management (WEM) provider or by creating a mobile security management platform with in-house IT, finding the right integrated, comprehensive solution will help to ensure that your enterprise can have the wireless security it’s seeking.
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