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Securing the mobile enterprise

Chin Ying Loong, Vice President, Fusion Middleware at Oracle, ASEAN | Feb. 26, 2015
. As gateways into the mobile enterprise, the security of devices is critical: if devices are not protected in the right way, they represent a weak link in enterprise systems and data security.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Today's truly mobile enterprises place mobility at their core, transforming their operations, engaging better with customers and partners and creating innovative business models that boost revenue. As gateways into the mobile enterprise, the security of devices is critical: if devices are not protected in the right way, they represent a weak link in enterprise systems and data security.

A recent Oracle survey showed that mobile devices are being lost and stolen to a fairly alarming degree -- especially by the young. 73 per cent of workers aged between 16 and 24 admitted to having lost their mobile device at least once, while 52 per cent owned up to having had their mobile device stolen on at least one occasion. The research uncovered a generational trend: among 45-54-year-olds, device theft was reported at just 20 per cent and losses at 36 per cent.

The loss of mobile devices should give businesses cause for concern. Mobile enterprises are agile and productive because they enable access to a wide array of systems on the move. The worry is that if a mobile device falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to access these systems for malicious reasons. Such concerns should not, however, stop businesses from moving towards mobility. It just means that they should do so in a secure way.

If the enterprise owns employee mobile devices then much of this risk can be mitigated. Businesses can lock down devices; ensuring that they are password protected and, in case of loss, sensitive information deleted remotely.

However, many workers will not use a device if it is not one they are familiar with or have helped select, especially if the usability of the device is hampered by heavy-handed security measures. The danger is that employees will instead use their personal devices for work. If the IT department does not know they are doing this,it cannot secure the device and the enterprise could be vulnerable.For a truly mobile enterprise, therefore,businesses need to arm workers with the devices they want (preferably their own).   

One solution to this challenge is COPE (Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled), where the business allows employees, in collaboration with IT, to choose the devices they use for work. This brings huge productivity benefits while ensuring that IT maintains control. Alternatively, businesses may embrace BYOD where employees are allowed to use personal mobile devices for work. BYOD offers significant savings on procurement and network costs in addition to productivity benefits.

Traditionally, businesses employing a mobile strategy have mostly usedmobile device management (MDM) platforms, which secure the device. The problem with MDM is that it harms the usability of mobile devices by slowing the user experience. This hinders productivity and can frustrate the user, even causing him or her to stop using the device.

 

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