From lock-down to access: Turning security into an enterprise mobility enabler

By KT Ong, general manager, Commercial Business, Dell Malaysia

When most business people think of IT security, they think of how policies and technology can restrict the ability to get work done. But in the mobility space, enterprises have a real opportunity to adopt good security practices which enable greater access to applications and better data management.

In today’s mature enterprise client computing environments, most people are familiar with common security practices such as passwords, tokens, antivirus software and content access restrictions. However, in the fast-paced mobile environment, businesses have struggled to keep up with the entrance of new devices in the market alongside the trend of bring your own device (BYOD).

One of the barriers to mobilising business apps and data is concerns around the security of information. With the right security technology and processes in place, organisations are able to confidently deploy applications to every end point device, enabling a more mobile workforce where staff have easy access to the information they need, anywhere and at any time. This is how security becomes an enabler for mobility.

KT Ong

KT Ong

A recent study by forecast the Asia-Pacific mobile security market to reach $7.5 billion by 2020, showing strong intention to protect information in mobile devices. Gartner too, predicted that by 2017, 75 percent of mobile security breaches will be the result of mobile application misconfiguration – a good indicator of the need for better mobile management.

 Device management includes data security

Like PC clients before them, most smartphones in use today are utilised without any remote management or security policy controls. IT managers are adopting mobile device management (MDM) solutions to bring a level of management and control over smartphone and tablet devices used for enterprise mobility.

However, managing devices is only part of the equation and the focus must turn to the applications and data on the device.  App deployment and management, data protection, separation of work and personal environment and mobile Web policies are good practices for securing a fleet of mobile devices.

Enterprises across Asia must focus on mobile app and data management to provide an appropriate level of security amid a sea of handset technology. This approach lays the foundation for security as a mobility enabler.

Security as a mobility enabler

Today’s complex enterprise architectures have many applications which are not available on mobile devices, resulting in missed opportunities with workers unable to access the information they need wherever they need it. But with the appropriate controls in place, enterprise mobility strategies can safely allow more applications to mobile end-points.

These controls can be containerised apps, data backups and Web access controls.

 Keeping an eye in personal mobility

As part of an enterprise mobility security program, organisations must consider which personal devices and apps are being used for work.

Tactical security controls such as mobile data management provides several advantages in separating personal and business data. According to research by IDC mobile devices utilized under the BYOD model has accounted for 22.5 per cent of all consumer smartphones shipped across Asia Pacific in 2013.

This trend presents another case for security as an enabler for enterprise mobility. Organizations can take several approaches to personal devices and apps – from blocking them outright to allowing staff to use whatever they like. Securing apps on personal devices enables workers to be productive with what they are familiar with, but at the same time protect the information being accessed and generated.

Mobile security focus
Personal productivity BYOD and BYOA can be huge productivity advantages but they need to be secured to minimise the business risk.
Mobile data management MDM and MAM are good tactical starting points for mobile security. Management provides a platform for personal and corporate mobility enablement.
Mobile Web access controls Many applications are Web based and should have appropriate access and content controls before being access from mobile devices.
Device features Most modern devices have sensors, including biometric sensors, which can be used to tie in more security controls like two-factor authentication.
App deployment Virtualization and containers provide a secure area on mobile devices so in-house developed or public apps can be deployed to any device.

 Table1 – How security becomes a mobility enabler.

The native device security advantage

In addition to device and content controls offered by MDM solutions, enterprise mobility strategies should investigate the use of the various sensors already embedded in modern mobile devices.

Native device sensors like NFC, motion control, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cameras and image scanning can give enterprises a second factor for common security processes like authentication and trusted content sharing.

Mobile devices have a lot to offer enterprise productivity and are at the forefront of bridging the IT and physical security worlds. Security is an enabler for many processes relating to mobile computing and should not be viewed as an “add on” that holds back productivity.

The unabridged article was originally co-developed by Dell and IDG for The Mobile Enterprise.

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