Enterprise mobility, or an approach to the workforce that enables employees to do their work from any location using available devices and applications, is a growing trend tied to digital transformation. In a 2016 survey conducted by Harris Poll, 90% of IT decision makers marked enabling enterprise mobility as a significant chunk of their IT spend due to its positive impact on workplace satisfaction, customer engagement, competitive stance and operational productivity. Yet despite the benefits of workforce mobility for a company’s business, there are a number of inherent IT security concerns that come along with the shift away from the office.
Enterprise mobility is strongly tied to BYOD trends in the enterprise that encourage employees to use their own smart devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops and watches) instead of investing extraneously dedicated corporate devices. The up-side of this trend is the budgetary savings, but the downside is that IT departments have less control over what’s connecting to the enterprise network and a weaker understanding of the vulnerabilities BYOD devices may introduce. Whether an employee intends to or not, their device may introduce cyber threats to the network that are difficult to control, as the device is not managed. Therefore, for companies that want to securely engage in BYOD and enterprise mobility, an agentless network visibility and control solution is essential, filling in the gaps on device health posture and providing methods to address threats, if they arise.
Another issue with enterprise mobility is location. Just as the location of a store is directly tied to how much it sells, the location of a connection, no matter where, is a good determiner of its security If an employee heads out on vacation with their laptop to do some work, you want to ensure that they can securely access company data without compromising it. Some IT departments set a range of valid locations from which employees can connect, but this limits the scope of activity for mobile, international organizations. Therefore, a network security solution that can provide visibility and automated methods of control will ensure that “sketchy” connections won’t jeopardize the safety of the entire network; and if they do, those connecting devices will be automatically blocked or quarantined until they are in a location with a safe connection.
A third, but by no means final, issue with enterprise mobility is that it is directly tied to the cloud computing trend. While this is great news, for a variety of reasons that we lay out here, many cloud applications only have rudimentary authentication methods that ensure the employee connecting is really who they say they are. Therefore, it’s important to have stronger authentication measure in place, either tied to a RADIUS server, Active Directory or based on a multi-factor authentication mechanism when they are connecting, be it over a wireless network or VPN connection. The cloud can definitely be trusted, but with the spike in cyber attacks such as distributed denial of service attacks and malware, it’s a good idea to add an extra layer of protection for accessing company documentation over the cloud.
The pace with which companies are embracing enterprise mobility leads many to believe that office building could soon be a thing of the past. However, it is important to remember that while employees may seem to have all the tools they need to effectively complete their tasks remotely – a laptop computer and phone connection – there is important network security ground to be laid prior to enabling this shift. By controlling access to the company network and its data, enterprises can safely engage in the mobility trend with the confidence that their network is as safe as it would be if everyone was still working from the office.
National Cyber Security Awareness Month is all about sharing knowledge to promote a safer and more secure internet environment for all users. When you hear of threats, inform your peers to prevent spreading, and always remain wary of what you search, receive and send over the internet. Awareness and education are the best ways to beat hackers!