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Why FMs should be adopting secure mobile technology

Author : David Strydom

21 August 2013

In a world where it seems everybody is on the move all the time, it's crucial secure mobile technology keeps up and is able to stay ahead of developments. But there are several reasons to believe that the faster FMs adopt mobile technology, the more likely they will benefit from early-adopter advantages.

It's also true, however, that as technology becomes more widely used, it attracts data security issues. Dave Anderson, senior director at Voltage Security says we all know the demands that executives have to always be available, to be able to access and share corporate data at any time with their staff and other stakeholders, and being on the road doesn't alter this to any degree.

''Executives demand the ability to use mobile devices to continue to run the business,'' says Anderson. ''The challenge isn't simply how to keep these devices and the data stored on the devices safe, but how to keep the data secure as it moves and is communicated across and through these devices. I was recently disembarking a flight, when the CFO I was sitting next to had to run back on the plane to retrieve her corporate iPad, which she had inadvertently left in the seat pocket. Most seasoned travelers have likely experienced a similar feeling of despair as they try to recapture their device that holds all the sensitive data.''

Anderson says the existence of security controls that help 'lock down' the device have been available for some time, and are positioned to help protect against the loss or theft of the device. Access and authorisation controls are intended to limit access to the device to only the authorised user, and mobile data management (MDM) security solutions enhance the access controls by focusing on locking the device, making the device theoretically unusable by anyone other than the owner.

''These controls that secure only the 'device' have a much stronger probability of actually working if the data on that device is static, and doesn't move into, or out of, said device. The whole intent of a mobility platform is in direct conflict with this notion. Executives are using, and will continue to use, smartphones and tablets to access business systems and applications and send sensitive communications across and outside of their organisation, regardless of where they are in the world. Unfortunately, these 'device-only' controls, those that simply try to place a protective wrapper around the device, are not effective in protecting the sensitive corporate and customer data as it is accessed and communicated across these devices.''

Martin Ward, director of iSite, says the world is moving faster than many corporate organisations can keep pace with. ''Certainly the IT teams that are working hard to catch up are often criticised by the very workforce and senior management they seek to help for being part of the problem. Too often, corporate IT teams block websites or impede communication by forbidding the use of certain mobile devices.''

This, Ward says, is because the workplace is being democratised by technology and the more intelligent and bolder organisations are embracing this change. ''Mobile telephony is changing how we work - there might be some risks, there might be some disadvantages, but to stand in its path is a short-term negative view.

''Cloud computing, social networks and widespread access to mobile devices is empowering employees and this has to be a positive thing - it needs to be embraced. Therefore, the big challenge for FMs, IT teams and executive boards is to adapt their behaviours and allow the democratisation of the workplace to be channeled positively to the advantage of big business.''

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