ICYMI (In Case You Missed It): Industry Insights on Mobile Security Event

Wilbur Smith of Brocade (left) and GovLoop’s Pat Fiorenza (center) speaking with event moderator Chris Dorobek (right).

No one can deny that technology has grown exponentially over the last few decades. We can now access more data with a device the size of a deck of cards than we used to be able to with a warehouse-sized server.

With the expansion in technology, however, comes increased concern with mobile security and management. Agencies must consider how to adopt safe and resilient mobile solutions in order to capitalize on the technological revolution. On Wednesday, GovLoop and Brocade hosted “Your Guide to Mobile Security and Management,” an event designed to spark conversation around mobility, security, and proactive management solutions.

GovLoop’s own Pat Fiorenza and Brocade’s Wilbur Smith offered industry insights on mobile security and management. GovLoop recently published a new guide, “Innovations that Matter: Mobile Security,” designed to empower and educate the government workforce.

“I want people look at the guides as conversation starters,” said Fiorenza, as well as “an educational resource to help government get smart on issues, identify the challenges and to keep in touch with the latest trends and best practices.” The guide features:

  • Results of a mobile survey of 169 of your government peers.
  • An overview of the General Services Administration’s Managed Mobility Program.
  • Two mobile applications case studies from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Best practices and lessons learned from government employees to centrally manage mobile devices.
  • A Managed Mobility Cheat Sheet.

Many agencies have trouble navigating the tough terrain that mobility device management (MDM) presents, especially in the earlier phases. For example, results from our survey indicate that 88 percent of respondents use a smartphone to access email or other internal agency networks.

“Nearly 60 percent of staff are not trained on how to keep their devices secure” however, added Fiorenza, highlighting a major concern for agencies and MDM policies. The case studies in the guide serve to provide concrete best practices for agencies to make MDM, well, more manageable.

Not found in the guide – but highlighted at the event – is a case study of the State of Michigan and their mobile security innovations. By starting small and carefully vetting their options and solutions, Michigan is now centrally managing over 10,000 devices through their MDM technology. For more information, see an earlier blog on Michigan’s MDM success.

Continuing the conversation of best practices, Brocade solutions engineer Wilbur Smith discussed mobility, security, and MDM from the network infrastructure perspective. “There’s a connection [between] all the stuff that sits inside our data centers and that smartphone or that mobile tablet device,” Smith explained. “And that’s…a network.”

Brocade is on the front end of the push for mobility and focuses on building scalable networks that support different platforms and open standards. “We’ve also embraced Software-Defined Networking (SDN),” said Smith. It’s a network platform that Smith believes will be “key to the next generation of mobile and BYOD initiatives.” For more information on SDN and Brocade’s engineering solutions, check out this informative video.

The discussion wrapped up with a Q&A segment and summary of more pertinent tips and best practices for agencies looking to initiate or enhance their MDM strategies. Here’s three takeaway points from the session:

  1. Know your data. As Fiorenza explained, it’s difficult to implement a strong MDM policy if you don’t have a good understanding of what you’re working with. “You really need to get a handle on how information flows in your organization, where data rests, who has access and how to make it work,” he recommended. “It will open up a window of opportunity for you, and make everything a lot more clear on data management.”
  2. Don’t be afraid to start small. A lot of MDM has to do with getting the right people at the table, knowing their needs, and creating the right products. While the big picture should drive decisions, that doesn’t mean every concern needs to be address all at once. “Not everything is necessarily going to need to be mobile ready,” Fiorenza noted. “Start small and do some testing, and then think about what you need to do to deliver services in new, transformative ways.”
  3. Consider how to control costs. “When building any new mobile solution, it will be critical to assess the risk any proprietary technology or standards may bring,” warned Smith. Technology that locks out competition may drive up costs and inhibit network flexibility and mobility. Solutions such as SDN operate on open standards allow agencies to better control MDM costs.

For more information, download the GovLoop guide on mobile security.

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Achieving agency missions becomes harder and more complex every minute. But with less money in the budget, many agencies are stuck between the need to deliver new services and the cost of supporting old infrastructure. To break the cycle of dependence on proprietary systems and endless service contracts, agencies need simpler, widely compatible network infrastructure that empowers IT and accelerates mission performance.

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