Governments are aggressively going mobile with new devices, app development projects and system integration efforts. Whether buying proven off-the-shelf products or developing mission-critical apps from scratch, there’s little doubt that the future interface for delivering customer service will be tablets and smartphones. Estimates suggest that at least 50 percent of users will access the Web via mobile devices by the end of 2013. 

Meanwhile, many governments that implemented cloud-first policies over the past few years are developing new “mobile-first” edicts to match. Indeed, tech experts described our customer data landscape to business leaders with a triangular diagram containing three interacting puzzle pieces: cloud computing, mobile devices and security.  

Some of these new apps are being acquired for public-sector workers to use on government-owned devices to improve efficiency. Other apps are citizen-centric, and they must be usable on the many new devices and operating systems now available and those coming soon. 

So what security issues are associated with mobile devices and app development? Here are five mobile security trends and some actions to consider as you become more mobile:

More Mobile Data Than Ever. For years, sensitive enterprise data has leaked via USB drives and lost or stolen laptops, but the number of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has exploded. 

Actions: Establish policies that encrypt mobile data on devices or keep all sensitive data off mobile devices. If accessing sensitive information is required, consider data loss prevention products and keeping all personally identifiable information on protected enterprise servers and off the endpoint devices.

More Mobile Malware. The bad guys are following the crowds, who are buying smartphones and tablets with more power than PCs of a decade ago. The DroidDream and Gemini malware attacks were launched in early 2012, and some call this the “Year of Mobile Malware.” Mobile botnets are also growing. 

Actions: Mobile device management services can protect devices by locking down permissions and offering anti-malware software and tools. Training end users is also essential via formal awareness programs that explain how to think before clicking.

Growing Use of BYOD to Work. Some security experts see the BYOD trend as “bring your own disaster.” Nevertheless, one top industry expert predicted that 80 percent of global enterprises will adopt this approach by 2016. 

Actions: Meet with business customers about mobile device preferences. Consider piloting BYOD in areas with nonsensitive data. Develop policies for the use of personal devices under different scenarios, even if some business areas opt out.

Authentication Complexity Growing. Despite the push for single sign-on, many enterprises still struggle with more credentials for more apps and devices. Users are tiring of more complex passwords, and the use of biometrics is growing. 

Actions: Streamline credentials with federated identity management across government systems, mobile apps and legacy programs. Consider using federal health IT dollars as anchor tenants. Apply government policies to personal devices, if they store business data — after getting employee buy-in. 

Mobile Platform Support Is Complex. Whether you’re writing apps for Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, BlackBerry’s BES or Microsoft’s Windows 8, secure coding is hard work. One technology CEO said, “You’d be hard pressed to find application developers who actively try to mitigate against cross-site scripting attacks, SQL injection attacks and cross-site request forgery attacks.” 

Actions: HTML5 is growing as an industry standard across mobile platforms — consider adopting it. Train staff in secure coding. And before deploying a code, test it for holes. 

Final Thoughts   

Government executives must consider having vendor partners manage specific services or assist with mobile activities. IT consumerization makes this a difficult area to keep up with. The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued draft guidance on mobile security. Many state and local governments issued RFPs in this area, and NASCIO issued several helpful papers on architectures with secure mobile implementations.

Dan Lohrmann Dan Lohrmann  |  Contributing Writer

Daniel J. Lohrmann became Michigan's first chief security officer (CSO) and deputy director for cybersecurity and infrastructure protection in October 2011. Lohrmann is leading Michigan's development and implementation of a comprehensive security strategy for all of the state’s resources and infrastructure. His organization is providing Michigan with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with Michigan assets, property, systems and networks.

Lohrmann is a globally recognized author and blogger on technology and security topics. His keynote speeches have been heard at worldwide events, such as GovTech in South Africa, IDC Security Roadshow in Moscow, and the RSA Conference in San Francisco. He has been honored with numerous cybersecurity and technology leadership awards, including “CSO of the Year” by SC Magazine and “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine.

His Michigan government security team’s mission is to:

  • establish Michigan as a global leader in cyberawareness, training and citizen safety;
  • provide state agencies and their employees with a single entity charged with the oversight of risk management and security issues associated with state of Michigan assets, property, systems and networks;
  • develop and implement a comprehensive security strategy (Michigan Cyber Initiative) for all Michigan resources and infrastructure;
  • improve efficiency within the state’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget; and
  • provide combined focus on emergency management efforts.

He currently represents the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) on the IT Government Coordinating Council that’s led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also serves as an adviser on TechAmerica's Cloud Commission and the Global Cyber Roundtable.

From January 2009 until October 2011, Lohrmann served as Michigan's chief technology officer and director of infrastructure services administration. He led more than 750 technology staff and contractors in administering functions, such as technical architecture, project management, data center operations, systems integration, customer service (call) center support, PC and server administration, office automation and field services support.

Under Lohrmann’s leadership, Michigan established the award-winning Mi-Cloud data storage and hosting service, and his infrastructure team was recognized by NASCIO and others for best practices and for leading state and local governments in effective technology service delivery.

Earlier in his career, Lohrmann served as the state of Michigan's first chief information security officer (CISO) from May 2002 until January 2009. He directed Michigan's award-winning Office of Enterprise Security for almost seven years.

Lohrmann's first book, Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web, was published in November 2008.  Lohrmann was also the chairman of the board for 2008-2009 and past president (2006-2007) of the Michigan InfraGard Member's Alliance.

Prior to becoming Michigan's CISO, Lohrmann served as the senior technology executive for e-Michigan, where he published an award-winning academic paper titled The Story — Reinventing State Government Online. He also served as director of IT and CIO for the Michigan Department of Management and Budget in the late 1990s.

Lohrmann has more than 26 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 U.S./UK military facility.

Lohrmann is a distinguished guest lecturer for Norwich University in the field of information assurance. He also has been a keynote speaker at IT events around the world, including numerous SecureWorld and ITEC conferences in addition to online webinars and podcasts. He has been featured in numerous daily newspapers, radio programs and magazines. Lohrmann writes a bimonthly column for Public CIO magazine on cybersecurity. He's published articles on security, technology management, cross-boundary integration, building e-government applications, cloud computing, virtualization and securing portals.

He holds a master’s degree in computer science from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

NOTE: The columns here are Dan Lohrmann's own views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the state of Michigan's official positions.

Recent Awards:
2011 Technology Leadership Award: InfoWorld
Premier 100 IT Leader for 2010: Computerworld magazine
2009 Top Doers, Dreamers and Drivers: Government Technology magazine
Public Official of the Year: Governing magazine — November 2008
CSO of the Year: SC Magazine — April 2008
Top 25 in Security Industry: Security magazine — December 2007
Compass Award: CSO Magazine — March 2007
Information Security Executive of the Year: Central Award 2006