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The Top 5 Mobile Security Concerns

It's a BYOD world, and organizations know it. Here are the things that worry them the most.

Organizations are embracing mobility in huge numbers. A recent Citrix study of 607 IT staffers found that 81 percent currently have or are planning their mobility strategies; 75 percent said they already have official mobile work policies in place. In addition, the exponential growth of mobile technology has people leaving IT-provided business devices and apps in the office and migrating to "non-standard" devices and apps. While great for employee satisfaction and flexibility, this change in work behavior is leaving many IT organizations struggling with how to maintain effective security, privacy and compliance of business apps, data and devices in all the places they can reside.

A look deeper into the data told us exactly where mobility concerns lie. When asked about the top challenges enabling mobility within their organizations, we learned that the top five all centered on security. Here are the top five concerns we heard and a few options for ways to address them.

  1. Maintaining data privacy mandates. With people now accessing personal and business data on the same devices (or worse yet, on personal devices), organizations tell us they are struggling with maintaining the separation and protection of this data. To ensure data privacy mandates for sensitive data are met, use enterprise mobility management technologies ranging from mobile device management (MDM) to mobile application management (MAM) for visibility and control into the business apps and data on the device.  MAM is highly relevant to personal devices and assures that personal content is unavailable to IT. For more restricted business data, centralizing it in the datacenter or cloud with technologies such as desktop virtualization or enterprise file sync and share (EFSS), combined with strong access controls, will ensure it doesn't get into the wrong hands.
  2. Automating access control. With people often using more than three devices a day to get their work done -- both employee and business-owned -- how can organizations ensure that only approved users, apps or devices get access to business resources? Using established technologies such as VPNs and application virtualization will provide seamless access to content behind the firewall, after appropriate device and identity checks are complete. Taking this a step further, a technology like MDM can set location perimeters and ensure that people only get access to certain resources when they're on the appropriate device and in a set geo-based location. And application-specific VPN capabilities automate VPN protections to the application and are transparent to users, who simply launch the app the way they always have.
  3. Complying with regulatory mandates. Globally, organizations face more than 300 security and privacy-related standards, regulations and laws, with more than 3,500 specific controls. So, how do you get started? Desktop and app virtualization allows organizations to host enterprise (Windows) apps and desktops in the data center, where IT can maintain centralized data protection, compliance, access control, and user administration. MDM and MAM technologies offer identity-based provisioning and control of mobile, SaaS and cloud apps and data across mobile devices. Enterprise file sync and share tracks and audits data usage while employees share data securely with anyone and sync data across all of their devices. And granular settings from networking to apps and data lets IT secure, track, control, and optimize access to apps, desktops, and services on any device.
  4. Use of personal apps for business data on mobile devices. Whether the fear is employees saving business data into personal data repositories, such as Dropbox, or using personal apps to manipulate business data, securing business data remains at the top of the list. Surprisingly, this is one of the easiest concerns to solve for. Using technologies like enterprise file sync and share (EFSS), organizations can give employees their very own secure data repository that is available wherever they are – just like Dropbox. However, unlike Dropbox, EFSS provide security features like encryption for data on the device and the ability to prevent data from going to the device at all. And for data that requires more stringent measures, centralizing it for access via desktop virtualization technologies ensures it never leaves the datacenter.
  5. Mobile application security. People love apps. "There's an app for that" is now the expectation that people have to accomplish tasks. The challenge for organizations is ensuring the security of business information being used by applications that employees download themselves. Technologies like MDM and MAM allow IT to centralize management, security and control for any mobile app as well as its data and settings in an encrypted enterprise-managed container. For apps that pose the highest risk, IT can block them from accessing sensitive data or even block the app outright. For others, IT can impose app-level policies such as authentication, network, location, passcodes, encryption and restrictions on app-to-app communication to further secure the app and data. This allows IT to enforce controls on consumer apps used for business or simply prevent consumer apps from interacting with business apps.

Maintaining effective security, privacy and compliance of business apps, data and devices is a top priority for organizations moving forward with mobility initiatives. However, mobility is much more than just controlling individual apps, data and devices – the true realization of mobile security and productivity may be realized by embracing mobile workspaces.

A mobile workspace is a portable, always on, always connected working environment that follows an employee no matter where they go, no matter what device they chose to use, and no matter what connectivity they happen to be leveraging. Technologically, it integrates all the great technologies highlighted above to seamlessly unite apps, data and services for delivery to any device while providing enterprise grade security to ensure apps, data and devices are secure and compliant no matter where they reside. With a mobile workspace, organizations can bring the needed security to their mobility initiatives and enable people to work better.

About the Author

Natalie Lambert is a Senior Director of Integrated Product Marketing at Citrix.

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