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How To Fix The Gaping Holes In Mobile Security

IT's juggling laptop policies and Wi-Fi policies and BYOD policies--and the result is unacceptable security gaps.

Policy Guidance

While you'd think Wi-Fi security would be well in hand by now, 32% of respondents still cite penetration of corporate Wi-Fi networks as a top concern. And when we look at the measures used to lock down corporate WLANs, it's clear they should be worried. Some 24% still use WEP, and another 24% use the predecessor to WPA2, WPA. Other critical areas in Wi-Fi security that are often neglected are detecting rogue access points and intrusion detection, prevention, and mitigation. Most home Wi-Fi networks sport better protection than what our respondents have. That's just embarrassing. Some policy recommendations for Wi-Fi:

>> Standardize on WPA2: Unless you're running pre-2006 gear, you have the capability. Use it. WEP should not be allowed, period.

>> If access through home Wi-Fi or public hotspots is allowed, it must be via a VPN or other secure connection.

>> Regulate guest access via a portal.

>> Specify regular scans for unauthorized access points and interference sources.

>> Unify your mobility teams. If the people managing your WLANs and cellular/BYOD programs aren't talking, they need to be.

On the smartphone front, risky user behavior is at the heart of respondents' concerns. We worry about mobile malware on applications from public app stores (31%) and users forwarding corporate information to cloud-based storage services (30%) and personal accounts (21%). However, as with WLAN security, recognition doesn't seem to be translating into effective action. For example, policies governing personally owned devices containing company data are quite different, and much more lax, compared with corporate-owned devices. What's the justification for that? If sensitive information falls into the wrong hands, does it really matter who owned the phone?

>> Extend password-strength policies to mobile devices. Passwords are respondents' top choice for authentication, so make them count. If users want the convenience of having information at their fingertips, the minor inconvenience of entering a complex password seems a reasonable price to pay.

>> Require stronger authentication if users are allowed to store sensitive or regulated data on smartphones or tablets. Among respondents, some 34% use on-device certificates, and 21% employ secure tokens like those from RSA for two-factor authentication.

When it comes to encryption, there are two major focus areas: encrypting data at rest on devices and data in transit over wireless networks.

>> Like authentication, make encryption the price of being allowed to keep corporate data on a mobile device. If you have an encryption requirement for laptops, it's reasonable to ask why what is essentially just a smaller computer should be treated differently.

>> Build and maintain a list of devices that meet your security criteria. We were surprised at the apparent lack of recognition among respondents regarding the differing security capabilities on Android implementations.

>> Specify requirements for over-the-air encryption. All transmissions should be encrypted using VPN, SSL, or a secure email system; that goes double if access from public hotspots is allowed.

For tablets, consider emerging desktop virtualization options, which we discuss more in our full report.

chart: Does your company have a mobile device management system?

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