Why Governments Should Focus On Mobile Device Management
The meteoric rise of BYOD is not just a run-of-the-mill technological reality check that organizations have to bear once in a while, but rather a gateway that promises to bring seamless connectivity to data sharing. It is undeniable that smartphones and tablets have emerged as the building blocks to a new form of business intelligence that can be unleashed with cloud-based services.
Thanks to the immense diversity and potential of cloud resources, coupled with uber-customizable software applications, organizations can empower their workers and organize workflows better than ever before.
Engineering Productivity – A New Hope for Government Efficiency
In light of this paradigm shift, government agencies (aside from the military), notorious for being latecomers to technological advancements, have started laying the mobile-powered blueprint for the “Government on the Go” dream to come true.
Engineering efficiency while minimizing expenses is the heart of the public sector workflow agenda, and it looks like mobile-enabled governance is definitely going to serve them well.
A recent report from Deloitte on the subject of public sector mobile technology deployment revealed that the claims of productivity boosts are certainly not exaggerated.
It showed that only 7 percent of U.S. Federal government employees engage in teleworking despite 32 percent being eligible to do so. Even if they all teleworked for half their working hours, it could reduce absenteeism, cut down office costs, and heighten productivity to provide a total savings of $5.4 billion per year.
Think about it! Whether it is 30 minutes of daily extra field time for police officers, or 2 hours saved by caseworkers, the productivity effect adds up.
It is not just a boon for public sector workers, but also a great relief to the pocket of taxpayers.
However, the bulk of the information transmitted through mobile is sensitive data that IT must safeguard. At the same time, IT must be able to respect the privacy of workers and deploy problem-specific mobile applications that add efficiency to the workflow.
Hence, a reliable MDM solution is of paramount importance in order to milk the true potential of mobile-enabled governance.
NASA is one of the few government agencies that walk a fine line between device and data management policies. Even though a huge portion of their scientific data is accessible for free to the public, it also has to ensure the integrity of its back-end business and operational networks is not compromised.
NASA manages access from employee mobile devices using a Defense Department mobile security standard.
Currently, the agency is experimenting with a number of mobile device management contracts across its numerous facilities and also setting up its own BYOD effort, borrowing structure from the mobile program set up for the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.
2 Key Concerns MDM Vendors Must Address
- Authentication Standards
As of now, mobile authentication seems to be the chink in the armor that cyber security agencies must fortify. Government workflows generally utilize a multi-factor authentication protocol for sanctioning access to sensitive data.
A reliable multi-factor authentication approach allows the independent validation of three key security concerns:
- User-exclusive knowledge
- Ownership of the device registered with the agency
- The role of the user in the agency
Conventionally, multi-factor authentication is carried out through protocols such as inputting a passcode generated by a physical security token, providing a special key card, or verifying your identity biometric tools.
- Employee Awareness
In a research study conducted by Mobile Work Exchange on the road to mobile readiness, there were strong indications of potential security breaches due to inefficient employee training.
Nearly 31 percent of mobile ready agencies work without receiving basic remote working training for mobile devices, and 18 percent have never received any security-related training.
Human error is the leading cause of security failure, and even the most robust mobile device management solution must be supplemented with good tutorials to empower the workers and ensure bulletproof data and system security practices.
The Way Forward
A few government agencies are also focusing on centralization of IT and mobile device support functions. They issue tablet computers and smartphones to designated personnel who can log into the network and access information via a virtual desktop interface (VDI).
In order to achieve their vision of highly granular control and easy data migration in the face of hardware and software obsolescence, government agencies must acquire an MDM system that offers the following features:
- Secure Container – To ensure only fully-certified apps operate and transfer data between each other.
- App-level Security Policies – Enhanced password authentication standards to launch applications
- Secure Network Access – Authenticate devices and sanction access only to devices provisioned to fixed servers and services.
- Powerful Encryption Standards – Strong AES encryption to safeguard data in-transit as well as stored data.
Although BYOD policies offer a great deal of employee liberation, they also present some key security and data access management challenges to ensure there is no costly compromise for the sake of convenience. Hence, a reliable mobile data management solution is essential in stabilization of workflow and protection from malware, security breaches, and managing employee access as per their clearance level.
Author: Prashant Bajpai