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How to Be Proactive toward Secure Mobility in the Workplace

Apr 25, 2008
Organisations should develop a proactive policy and strategy that embraces new ideas and methods to create a secure mobile workplace. "Secure mobility" is typically defined as the ability to provide employees and customers with secure "anytime, anywhere, any device" access to the corporate network. To be pro-active means acting in advance to deal with an expected difficulty.

1) Secure Mobility in the Workplace

Forcing employees to use only devices that are provided by IT is possible but both difficult to achieve and liable to result in resistance due to perceived inflexibility.

2) Secure Mobility Challenges

Your organisations may already have been confronted with the real risk of security breaches as a result of the explosion of mobile devices in the workplace. Although mobile workers are major culprits in inviting potential security breaches, organisations on the other hand are not actively deploying prevention strategies, because they do not recognise their mobile workforce.

Organisations should therefore create a proactive plan to mitigate potential security risks, to allow employees to enjoy the convenience of using mobile devices and organisations to gain maximum value from a productive, mobile workforce.

3) A Proactive Secure Mobility Plan

A Proactive Secure Mobility Plan consists of the following components:

3.1) Recognise your mobile employees

To assess the risk presented by using consumer mobile devices, conduct a baselining exercise starting with an audit to identify existing remote workers and the devices that they are using.

3.2) Plan

Once you understand current levels of mobile working, you can begin to look at the risks associated with this and plan for mitigation and controlled expansion of the mobile network. The planning phase should ascertain the different types of access required to the network and the associated risks like the impact of a stolen laptop, an unauthorised access to a particular server, data-store or the network, and the risks associated with public services such as Internet cafes, wireless hotspots or Bluetooth communication being used to access the corporate network.

Once you have completed the risk analysis, determine the potential impact of exploitation of these risks in terms of the cost to the organization. Identify mobile workers and gauge the types of devices employees are already using. Classify your employees in groups and determine the types of information and resources that need to be made accessible to them. Assign the overall responsibility for security to a single individual so that ownership and escalation paths are clear. Document the role that strategic technology partners like system integrators play in the deployment of secure. Communicate this to your employees and technology partners. Conduct internal training sessions or hold sessions as part of new employees' induction programmes.

3.2.A) There are technologies to prevent unauthorised access to the network. For example, Network Admission Control (NAC) enforces policy for remote devices connecting to the corporate network, and Wireless detection devices Install wireless detection technology on your wireless networks to monitor unauthorised wireless users and the deployment of rogue access points.

3.2.B) There are technologies to prevent compromise of the endpoint: Client Security Softwares, Host-Bbased Intrusion Detection/Prevention Software (IDS/IPS), and Anti-Spywares.

3.2.C) There are technologies to prevent information loss or dataloss or exposure to information: Data Encryption, and Information/Data Leak Prevention (ILP / DLP) softwares.

3.4) Monitor compliance with your organisation's mobile policy

Use devices that monitor the network for compliance and ensure that you haven't been compromised by viruses or other malicious code. Security monitoring technology combined with compliance tools will ensure any breach in policy is quickly identified and dealt with.

Assess vulnerability of the network and key devices. Once they are found, introduce steps to mitigate these vulnerabilities. Perform penetration testing in conjunction with the Vulnerability Assessment to test network resilience fully against potential threats.

4) The Benefits of Secure Mobility

Once you have implemented a Proactive Secure Mobility Plan, you can begin to realise the various benefits derived from mobile technology. These include:

4.1) Improved employee productivity

They will have the ability to access information from wherever they are located in the world. Better access to information leads to greater productivity.

4.2) Ensure Business Continuity

Mobile technology provides the capability for employees to carry on working from home or other locations ensuring the business continues to operate whatever the situation.

4.3) Eliminating traditional work boundaries and creating a more flexible workspace

Secure mobility provides an opportunity to enhance employees' toolsets and assists in creating a flexible working environment that is not bound to a physical location.

4.4) Improved client interactions

A secure mobile environment can significantly improve the client interface enabling business to be conducted at the client's convenience regardless of employee location.
About the Author
Datacraft is the leading independent IT services and solutions company in Asia Pacific. Datacraft combines an expertise in networking, security, Microsoft solutions, storage and contact centre technologies, with advanced skills in consulting, integration and managed services, to craft IT solutions for businesses.
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