Mobile Security Risk Correlates with Benefits

By  Swarna Podila, Senior Manager, Enterprise Mobility Group, Symantec — May 06, 2013

A recent Symantec survey found that innovative companies — early technology adopters, especially of mobile technology — are seeing significantly higher revenue growth and higher profits than traditional organizations; in fact, by nearly 50%.
 
However, the same survey found that these innovative companies who are leading the way in mobility adoption also experience roughly twice as many mobile security-related incidents, such as loss of corporate data.
 
Mobile Dilemma
Thus, we see an enterprise mobility benefits versus risks dilemma, and it is heightened by BYOD. On the one hand, implementing BYOD and other cutting-edge mobility initiatives enables end users to increase their productivity and thus improve a company’s bottom line. On the other hand, the risks associated with enterprise mobility can also have a direct financial impact.
 
It may appear that organizations must choose between the rewards of enterprise mobility and BYOD, or avoid the risks associated with them. However, this is not the case. With the right strategy for app and data security, companies can have the best of both worlds.
 
From a high level, there are two approaches to keeping business data on mobile devices secure — information control at device level and app level.
 
Device Level Controls
Controls on mobile information at the device level largely involve mobile device management (MDM) software. MDM provides business IT with control over complete devices. As such, policies can ensure devices are password protected, provide the ability to remotely lock or wipe devices in the event of a loss or theft and even prevent the forwarding of emails.
 
However, MDM cannot address data loss-related concerns such as copying and pasting of sensitive information or more importantly protecting corporate data in applications beyond the email client.
 
Thus, the device- only approach only could create an environment where sensitive data might mingle with personal apps and leak out through, for example, a web-based email account, social networking application or personal cloud storage.  (This can all occur without IT ever knowing it.)
 
App and Data Level Controls
The next logical area where enterprises can implement and enforce policies to keep data on mobile devices secure is at the app level. Mobile application management (MAM) allows companies to wrap their corporate apps and the data tied to them in their own security and management layers.
 
This gives enterprises complete control of their apps and data while leaving user-owned information untouched. With MAM, controls such as authentication, encryption, data loss prevention and expiration — apps and data can be manually expired or set to automatically remove themselves from devices based on perimeters established by administrators.
 
This can all be applied to corporate apps and other resources on otherwise unmanaged, user-owned devices. In this way, complete end-to-end visibility and control over where sensitive data is flowing —regardless of what mobile application or service is being used to traffic the data — can be achieved and, just as importantly, maintained.
 
In addition, MAM allows multiple corporate apps to securely communicate with each other and for data traffic segregation. Thus, all traffic from corporate apps can be routed through the corporate network while the personal traffic is left unmonitored.
 
MAM is about protecting the corporate apps and data on mobile devices by taking management from a device level to an application level. It is the most effective tool for separating corporate data from personal data to make safe, effective BYOD policies possible.
 
While the risks associated with enterprise mobility and BYOD are largely inherent, implementing tools such as MAM can mitigate these risks. Organizations can reap the rewards without fear of incurring the damages associated with encountering the risks unprepared.

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