Enterprise Mobility Trends and Addressing Security Concerns

Enterprise Mobility and SecurityMarket analysts predict that by 2018, 25 percent of corporate data will flow directly from mobile devices to the cloud completely bypassing the perimeter security. Until we reach that stage, security is the top concern for every enterprise that embraces mobile cloud-first technology approach.

Enterprise mobility is a mobility ecosystem encompassing cloud services, apps, data protection, and secure networks. Trends such as Bring your own Apps (BYOA) and Bring your own Device (BYOD) is fuelling the culture of employees using their personal mobility devices to access work-related documents. Besides increasing worker productivity and collaboration, it is very convenient for employees on the move to access the enterprise network through their mobile devices.

To seamlessly run this safe ecosystem across the entire organization is a challenge for the IT team, as there are hackers lurking around looking for unprotected devices to wreak havoc. If he gets hold of a nearby mobile device, quite effortlessly he can mirror the device, view the data, or siphon out information by installing a malware.

Shadow IT and Risk Management 

An average company in the US uses 1083 cloud services. 80% employees responded to a survey saying they use SaaS applications at work and download various types of apps besides the basic file sharing app like Dropbox, SharePoint to Evernote (app for taking notes). Such use of information technology systems and solutions without explicit organizational approval called Shadow IT, is encouraging hacking activities and costing organizations millions of dollars.

Wearable devices like enterprise smartwatches are the trendy devices that are entering companies today. Very few such devices have enterprise-grade authentication integrated out of the box, which makes them very vulnerable to security breaches. 

Securing mobile devices is slightly different from the conventional network security because it moves outside the organization’s boundary. Therefore, many tools like firewalls, spam and content filtering are ineffective. Evading a password and gaining access to encrypted data and information regarding email and virtual private network (VPN), stored on the iPhone Keychain is not that tough for a seasoned hacker.

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Here are certain best practices that every organization should lay down to protect from costly data breaches:

  • To secure mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS from malware attacks, an anti-malware software should be updated on a regular basis.
  • To secure the network, mobile traffic can be directed through special mobile gateways, complete with customized firewalls, content filtering, and other security controls enabled. It is also a good idea to have penetration testing done at times on the network to fix any loose ends.
  • If the user is using their own devices, it is a good practice to ask them to log on to a remote virtual work environment, through VPN. In this case, only the screen output from work applications and systems transmit to the mobile device until the remote session ends.
  • To avoid system giving automatic access to sensitive information and to curb interception of data in transit, opt for multi-layered authentication, with add-on device passwords. Enterprises can list out safe apps and black-list unsafe ones for the network.
  • As wireless communication is easy to capture, all sensitive corporate data and intellectual property going in and out of mobile devices should be encrypted. Using VPNs that include encryption and strong authentication capabilities are essential to access cloud-based systems or other remote services from mobile devices.
  • The smartphones these days come with additional security features like facial recognition capabilities, fingerprint scanners, and voiceprint recognition besides the conventional passwords for added security. In case someone loses the phone or it gets stolen, companies should be able to track the location and if required do a remote wipe of sensitive data.
  • With sensitive data strewn throughout internal networks and external clouds, security professionals will have to classify data at a more granular level to provide protection depending on its sensitiveness.

Corporate app stores

It is increasingly seen that people use their business device for non-work purposes and personal device in business. According to research firm Gartner, at least 38 percent of enterprises will stop providing devices to employees and expect employees to get their own devices by end of this year.

Enterprises today are investing in creating apps for their employees, customers and business partners to be unique in the way they do business. For example, there are apps for employees to book tickets for business travel and file their expenses. In the medical scenario, there are HIPAA-compliant apps for doctors and nurses to discuss patient records wherein the texts are encrypted and gets deleted after a while.

When developers design and do coding for an app, they will have to think about the security aspects as well. By using an app security SDK, the security of the app can be tightened further before wrapping the app with security policies and distributed. The challenge is to strike a fine balance between effective security that doesn’t impede usability and UX.  The advantage in favour of the employer is, in case an employee part ways with the organization, the corporate app store and its apps can be remotely removed, without affecting personal apps of the employee.

Enterprise Mobility Management market

To ask employees not to deploy apps on their personal devices is not a solution. There are platforms like MaaS360 that can rate risky apps as well as detect malware and take quick action. It offers device level security by securing the data even when it is saved within the apps. The IT department has the responsibility to audit the risk of each service and its security controls, and if not safe, disable it. To improve collaboration and reduce cost, companies should try to standardize enterprise licenses for 2-3 services.

Enterprise system administrators have the option of installing and managing work-related apps and data by setting a container on the employee’s personal device using mobile hypervisors, without intruding into user’s personal content.

Various companies are developing platforms to easily connect and manage their employees’ mobile devices. Gartner predicts the Enterprise Mobility Management market (including mobile application management, mobile content management and mobile device management) to reach $15.2 million by 2019.  Our advice to enterprises is to have once such system installed in the devices to secure the loopholes and save sensitive information from reaching cyber criminals.

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Author : Deepa Nishant Sinha Date : 01 Jun 2017