Are You Managing a Global Mobile Perimeter 6.6 Billion Devices Strong?

by Peter Merkulov

It’s easy to take for granted that we live in a connected, mobile world. The latest Ericsson mobility report predicts that 90 percent of the world’s population over the age of six will have a smartphone by 2020. That means in four years there will be 6.6 billion people connected on one device or another.

It also means that there will be 6.6 billion people who (should be) concerned with the security of their personal and business data. What’s more, many of them will be employees, contractors, partners and customers of companies requiring access to corporate networks—including yours. Are you ready to protect the information on which your business relies while also accommodating the demands of a mobile workforce?

The traditional network perimeter is a thing of the past. Today, anywhere-anytime access to information is the expectation; striking a balance between security and accessibility is the challenge. Protecting valuable data and maintaining compliance with privacy and security regulations is often at odds with making access to data fast and convenient to employees who need it. Add to that the need to accommodate the various personal preferences that employees, partners and contractors have—known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)—and data management becomes a task of enormous proportions.

Employee adoption of new technology—shadow technology, operating within the enterprise but beyond the view and control of IT—is not a new phenomenon, but because of the capability and interconnectedness of today’s tech, the stakes are higher because of it. That’s why creating an effective enterprise mobility management strategy within a BYOD program is essential to maintaining mobile productivity, protecting valuable data assets and maintaining network integrity.

Have you stopped to consider where in the mobile world your data might be at this moment? Is it on premises, in the cloud, on an employee’s mobile device or some combination of the three? Data mapping can help identify where in the network your data is stored and data classification can help you identify—based on your enterprise’s appetite for risk and relevant data management and security regulations—how to secure data and apply policy. In all cases it is important that the IT department is able to maintain complete visibility and control over the network and data; without it, security is difficult—if not impossible—to achieve.

Shadow IT is, in part, a symptom of our human nature that is compelled to avoid inconvenience. People want to use tools that make work as easy as possible, so it’s important to look for solutions that don’t impede users—or the time and resources of the IT team. In fact, if you fail to keep up with user expectations, you may end up managing shadow IT more than the technology your employees are supposed to be using. When frustrated workers bring personal devices and preferred applications into the enterprise, security risks increase. Every new end point is a potential entry point for hackers to exploit, or for human error to expose.

With data mapped and classified, it’s time to take an inventory of security and governance regulations that apply to the data you create, collect and manage; it’s time to write policies dictating how data must be handled by those who have access; and it’s time to determine who needs access and who needs privileged access. You may also want to contemplate how today’s policies might affect the future direction of the organization. It’s also important to identify the feature set needed to complement enterprise-level security for collaboration with business partners, customers, and employees as well as regulatory compliance, governance, and visibility. Such controls should keep your data safe without impeding performance and scalability.

If you haven’t broken out in a cold sweat by now it means you’ve either tackled this challenge already, or you haven’t grasped the gravity and magnitude of the task before you. It also means you haven’t heard that, according to the Ponemon Institute’s 2016 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the consequences of getting it wrong average $4 million dollars per incident.

Your network’s mobile human perimeter might not consist of 6.6 billion devices, even if it seems like it at times. Don’t feel daunted by the illusion of an unmanageable challenge. Put a plan in place for enterprise mobility management in the age of BYOD that asks the right questions and seeks the right solutions. Such strategies don’t happen by accident; they require purpose and forethought.

Peter Merkulov is the vice president of  of Product Strategy and Technology Alliances at Globalscape.


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