Ed Brennan | 10.06.16
Summary >

Mobility is the great connector of our time, enabling people to access worlds of information from our devices in a matter of seconds. While the power of mobility continues to be embraced by organizations offering benefits to both employees and business owners, the threat of security breaches looms over IT professionals across all industries—including field services. With bring your own device (BYOD) no longer a phenomenon but an assumption, there exists more room for security pitfalls than ever. Sensitive data lives everywhere, increasing the risk of exposure, and with hackers becoming more and more sophisticated, many of today’s security mechanisms no longer offer adequate protection. In this blog, we’ll explore mobility and security in the enterprise and how the future success of an organization will depend on its ability to secure its own data as well as its customers.

Mobile security in the enterprise

It’s rare that there’s a distinction between a work phone and a personal phone these days; most people use one device for all. This results in a lot sensitive data being housed on personal devices that travel anywhere and everywhere outside of the office.

As the enterprise continues to expand its mobile ecosystem, security must be a top priority and not just on devices themselves, but on the applications within them as well. Devices can easily be stolen or lost and if it’s found by the wrong person with the ability to break into the device, what’s to stop them from logging into the device’s applications and retrieving all kinds of valuable enterprise data and secrets. From bank accounts to personal calendars to sensitive work data; once a device is compromised, it’s challenging for IT to regain control.

To save IT from avoidable headaches, apps need to be more tightly integrated into the security features of the device to ensure proper use. There has to be a balance between an app’s usability and the security of service—like those rolled out by the credit card industry.

A smarter approach

Have you ever travelled somewhere and forgotten to notify your credit company or bank of your plans and had your credit card declined? While inconvenient (and embarrassing) in the moment, it’s actually one of the most sound security practices applied to today’s technology. With credit cards, remote teams consistently monitor use so that they have a baseline against which they compare all future activity. When they notice an irregularity in usage (i.e. $1,000 spent in Moscow a day after the consumer was just in Los Angeles), the card is immediately frozen until the customer can confirm that the card is in their hands and hasn’t been compromised.

While this example is not in the enterprise security space, it does exemplify the type of practices that are available. So why haven’t other industries embraced them? Building behavioral security into an application to identify a user’s typical behavior from an aberration can potentially indicate a breach, thus locking the system to protect the enterprise information on that device. These practices would be especially beneficial in the field service management industry, where service professionals have access to streams of sensitive business information. For example, say a field service professional has the ability to point her device at power plant transformer and see inside that transformer to diagnose an issue that will likely cause problems in the near future. Now imagine if that device fell into the hands of a person who wants to take out the power grid for the east coast, they would know exactly how to take out the transformer and what the impact would be. Considering this example, the need for improved security measures when it comes to mobility becomes quite clear.

A look ahead

The growth in mobility over the past two decades signals the adoption of new technologies that are capable of communicating incredible amounts of data to service professionals—and anyone—in real-time. A recent study found that the number of mobile devices in the enterprise increased by 72% between 2014 and 2015. With this number only expected to increase in the coming years, the amount of information that will become available to the wrong people will only increase. The need for constantly evolving security measures for mobile devices and apps we interact with everyday is clear. The future of everything from enterprise organizations to the government to your own bank account depends on what steps are taken to protect them. Enterprise security—whether mobile or across the organization—is an area that needs to be scrutinized, updated, considered and prioritized, every single day. Otherwise your organization will become just another statistic.