The battle of the mobile devices rages on. Smartphones, iphones, ipads, PDA’s, call them what you will, they are the marmite of the corporate world – loved by many for their ease of use and limitless applications, yet causing shudders among IT Security managers.
Not long ago, the corporate network was a virtual fortress, somewhere you could only gain access to if you had the proper equipment, the correct security clearance and a seriously robust level of virus checking, web filtering, intruder protection and posture validation.
Somewhere along the way, however, it seems that network security has taken second place to Santa Claus.
The next wave of iPhone and iPad mania will sweep the country over the festive period and numerous employees will come back to work eagerly extolling the virtues of their latest gizmo and why it could revolutionise their working lives … once they get connected to the network.
But consider this for a moment: is iTunes really a business grade application? Can BillyBert’s Expenses Calculator App be supported by the IT department in your organisation? And what exactly are you doing with across your 3G connection when you are Wi-Fi’d in to the corporate LAN?
It is not scaremongering to say an employee’s Apple or Blackberry could become the back door for a virus or a hacker, which could cause an entire network to crumble.
Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of Blackberry devices has spent several years – and a few quid – developing business grade applications to control how corporate mobile devices can be used and also the financial costs associated with their use.
Policies can be applied for web usage, call control and data compression, thereby reducing costs and risk. However the recent core switch failure in RIM’s network may have caused some ripples of discontent across their corporate customer base.
Meanwhile, what people demand today – even more than functionality – is availability. Users have become accustomed to being always on and always connected.
The recent and untimely passing of Apple CEO Steve Jobs has left a void which may prove hard to fill. The recent launch of the iPhone 5 turned out to be simply an upgrade of the iPhone 4. Strong leadership will be required to ensure that Apple can maintain the momentum it has gained in the smartphone and tablet market.
Delivering Employee Expectations
Put simply, technology companies need to ensure they are in a position to deliver against expectations. Whether that be delivering the products they promise or guaranteeing service availability, the realisation that customers can shift their allegiances with a fleetness of foot never previously experienced, will keep many CEO’s awake at night.
From a corporate perspective, businesses need new ways of securing their networks at all points of access so that policy decisions can be made for each device connecting to a network rather than just each user.
Employees using a range of different devices may now need the device profile checked by the authentication server before granting permissions to the various applications available. For instance, an employee accessing their corporate network using the company’s own PC or laptop can generally be given access to their normal array of applications depending on their personal security level.
However, the same individual choosing to log on to the same network with a different device, an iPad for instance, may now need to be restricted to fewer corporate applications.
This might mean that, although they can log on to the corporate network, they may only be able to access email or the Internet, rather than the company’s financial systems or other sensitive functions.
Creation of these types of ‘Borderless Networks’ is an art in itself and is best left to the experts. The Network Division of Arthur McKay Ltd has already developed a number of similar solutions for numerous customers – businesses of all sizes.
We find that the increasing prevalence of mobile technologies is driving a change throughout the Private and Public Sectors alike.
Many schools for instance now differentiate themselves from others by providing a secure (and safe) networking platform for staff and pupils alike where a wide and varied range of devices all require controlled access to, what is essentially, a shared environment.
This can only be achieved by enforcing device specific security policies throughout the network infrastructure, from the core to the edge.
Dave McLean, Head of Network Operations at Arthur McKay, has worked in the network communications sector for more than 30 years.
Press release issued on behalf of Arthur Mckay as part of a sustained PR and media relations campaign carried out by Holyrood PR