Mobile Device Management - More Smartphones Mean More Questions for CxOs

What is clear is that the battle for mobile apps is heating up, and the mobile OS space has moved up to become a core issue for CxOs over the next few years.

by / October 9, 2010 0

Microsoft is set to launch new devices running their Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system (OS) on Monday. While this is being labeled by industry experts as a vital new offering from Microsoft, new questions continue to arise for global enterprises. What mobile platforms should be allowed? Should standards be set to limit user choices or should customers be able to choose an iPhone, Blackberry, Droid or any other mobile device? The “cool factor” and business benefit may be real, but what are the hidden costs?

What is clear is that the battle for mobile apps is heating up, and the mobile OS space has moved up to become a core issue for CxOs over the next few years (along with cloud computing, identity management, data analytics, virtualization and a few other hot topics). Not only are the stakes very high, the issues are complex for government infrastructures.

Nevertheless, most companies and governments are gearing up to support multiple smartphones, according to a Network World article that acknowledges the headaches it will cause. According to the article:

“A recent Forrester survey shows that businesses are already revising their client computing strategies to incorporate smartphones from multiple vendors. One reason is that it's easier to attract top employees if you let them use their favorite smartphones for business and personal use. And while that strategy may work for the front office, it's a challenge for IT staffers who must keep up on security threats on multiple OS platforms.”

 So what are the headaches? This InformationWeek article lays out many of the Mobile Device Management (MDM) issues that must be addressed. It all starts with the policy, and a few of the items that need to be included are:

·     “Remote wipe/remote reset

·     Hardware control: Include camera on/off, Bluetooth on/off, Wi-Fi associations to certain SSIDs only, and access to internal or external storage

·     Mandatory authentication methods for gaining user interface access

·     At-rest encryption: Whole disk or file-by-file

·     Firewalls: Protection from unwanted inbound IP connections to the device via the Wi-Fi or 3G/4G radios

·     Anti-malware: Protection from malicious software code for operating system components or files that make their way onto the device, such as via e-mail”

I recently told a group of internal staff members to begin thinking of mobile devices the same way that they think about laptops. That is, what are the risks for our teleworkers and/or laptop users (including offsite at hotels and restaurants) in the enterprise today? Sure, there are real differences, but we have the same risks such as malware, acceptable use for websites visited, protecting information and identity management issues in both places. The truth is that laptops are getting smaller and lighter (becoming netbooks) and smartphones can do many more things. This trend will only continue.

This National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) Research Brief is a great place to start in learning more on the topic of “Security at the Edge.”

Dan Lohrmann Chief Security Officer & Chief Strategist at Security Mentor Inc.

Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.

During his distinguished career, he has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, receiving numerous national awards including: CSO of the Year, Public Official of the Year and Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader.
Lohrmann led Michigan government’s cybersecurity and technology infrastructure teams from May 2002 to August 2014, including enterprisewide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan.

He currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for Security Mentor Inc. He is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers and executives in the public and private sectors. He has advised senior leaders at the White House, National Governors Association (NGA), National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), federal, state and local government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and nonprofit institutions.

He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US/UK military facility.

Lohrmann is the author of two books: Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web and BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work. He has been a keynote speaker at global security and technology conferences from South Africa to Dubai and from Washington, D.C., to Moscow.

He holds a master's degree in computer science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a bachelor's degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Follow Lohrmann on Twitter at: @govcso