October 26, 2010

Mobile Device Security and Management

  • Enterprise Strategy Group
  • Commissioned by Juniper Networks
ESG conducted a research survey IT professionals in North America. Based upon this research project, this paper concludes:
  • Mobile devices have become mission critical. Organizations are spending more on - and doing more with - mobile devices each day. ESG's data clearly indicates that most enterprises regard mobile devices as mission critical tools, not the latest consumer toys.
  • Management and security lag behind. Mobile devices are making employees more productive from more places. This is encouraging large organizations to invest further in mobile devices and develop custom applications. Unfortunately, the data also indicates a growing mobile device security and management gap: mobile devices tend to be managed on an ad-hoc basis, increasing IT operations cost and complexity. Alarmingly, mobile devices remain relatively insecure even though they are used to access core applications and lots of sensitive data. These issues create a potential Faustian compromise in the future as greater productivity comes with a cost of IT operations fire drills and increasing security risk.
  • CIOs must address management gaps to maximize mobile device benefits while minimizing the risks. Large organizations need to address mobile device security and management weaknesses. What's needed? Sound policies, documented processes, integrated mobile device management and security tools, and constant oversight.

CIOs must establish a baseline of strong mobile device security as soon as possible. Why? Mobile devices represent the proverbial "weak link" in the security chain; therefore, poor mobile device security creates vulnerability for ALL critical systems on the corporate network. In other words, one compromised mobile device could lead to a major data breach. Furthermore, mobile device proliferation will only increase in the future--growing more complex, costly, and risky over time. Enterprise firms need to get their arms around mobile device security before they are buried by overwhelming cumbersome IT operations or burned by a costly security event.

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This is a super paper addressing a major security and management threat - explosive proliferation of mobile devices, including iPhones and similar devices.

These devices are particularly "invasive" in that even though they are historically thought of as "smart phones," they are, in reality, fairly sophisticated computers that have the ability to support telephony as well.

As supported by the data in the paper, the Enterprise is at great risk unless a comprehensive plan is put into place to manage the use of these devices, many of which might be supplied by the employee rather than the company, thereby increasing the difficulty of control.

Great data regardless of your state of reining in these devices.

The charts in the paper are compelling, and the arguments aren't exaggerated. In fact, they are probably understated.

The data in the paper was collected in late 2009.

At that point, the "Droid" was just coming out, and the iPad had not even been announced. Personally, I was still using a phone that was just a phone. (And now probably less than 50% of my "phone" usage is for voice.) Now, there are more than 100,000 applications available for the Android.

The support for the Android OS is also, imho, vastly under-represented from the needs today. For instance, a major announcement by a supplier of Unified Communications endpoints (a.k.a. phones) is based on Android.

The bottom line on all of this is that the need for security and management of mobile devices is expanding exponentially. So it should be a top priority for enterprises of all sizes.

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