Enterprise Mobile Security in the Smartphone Age

February 27, 2014

In the nearly 40 years since the birth of the cell phone, issues of mobile security have never been more pressing than they are today. The combination of ongoing revelations of government access to all major carrier data, devices containing applications that are free to “steal” data, and the exponential proliferation of mobile devices to employees at every level of job status, have created great cause for IT executives to reexamine the safe and secure mobile future of their enterprise.

Corporate smartphones are by nature powerful containers, synthesizers and transmitters of proprietary data. Their incredible usefulness is second only to their losability. The loss of just one corporate device, that is not properly secured, could be a shocking addition to an enterprise’s telecom cost management. 

According to enterprise security expert Jack Gold, companies will lose three to four times as many smartphones as notebooks per year. Gold asks, “with 32 or 64 GB of memory, how many records does a lost smartphone or tablet contain?At a conservatively estimated cost of $250 per lost record,a data breach can be dear. In fact, some research estimates the cost of a single mobile breach at more than $400,000 for a large enterprise and more than $100,000 for a small business, and in some exceptional cases these costs can range into the millions of dollars.This concern should resonate loudly as an increasing number of smartphones and tablets not only connect to the corporate network but also access a growing number of business apps and content repositories.

Today, the ubiquity of mobile applications necessitate that a revised mobile device management architecture be implemented due to the new challenges they bring. Smartphones are essentially app-containers (a smartphone holds on average of 60 apps) and a vast majority of the time apps transmit data in a way that is not always clear to the end-user. According to one Wall Street Journal study:

“An examination of 101 popular smartphone apps—games and other software applications for iPhone and Android phones—showed that 56 transmitted the phone’s unique device ID to other companies without users’ awareness or consent. Forty-seven apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way. Five sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders.”

Apps by nature take user information and squeeze it through their unique parameters, sending it to-and-fro, spitting out an attractive and useful synthesis. Employees love using productivity apps like Dropbox and Evernote. These apps are universally loved because of their ease of use and general usefulness to their work. But unfortunately these two apps in particular are very prone to data loss.

Now in its 10th iteration Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES10), the once-king of enterprise mobile security is seeing stalled out implementation due to its uncertain future. Despite the business-failings of RIM (the makers of Blackberry), it is a telling sign of BES’ hermetic trustworthiness that President Barrack Obama is still required to use a Blackberry over Apple and Google devices. The reasons for presidential security seem obvious, as computer-security blogger Graham Cluley explains:

“…A smartphone is, at its most basic level, a tracking device. It knows where you are in the world, and in some cases can geolocate you with extraordinary precision. That’s why you need to be really careful about what apps you allow to record your location, and where they might share that information.”

Enterprise mobile security concerns should not keep your company from reaping the profound benefits of an advanced strategic mobile fleet. Let Mindglobal help you navigate the smartphone-age in which mobile security is paramount. We are the leaders in enterprise mobile solutions and mobile device management tools with over 20 years of experience.

Contact us today if you would like to continue this enterprise mobile solutions consulting conversation!