Peter Merkulov 24 August 2016

Improving the safety of mobile technology

Improving the safety of mobile technology image

In 2015, millennials became the largest generation in the workforce, bringing with them new experiences, ideas and approaches to work. Successive government ministers have prioritised the digitisation of the public sector, but sceptics inside and out question the extent to which this can be achieved safely and securely.

Traditionally the public sector lagged behind the private sector in its adoption of the latest technology; however, the need to innovate and appeal to a rapidly evolving workforce is forcing changes. The millennial generation is made up of tech-savvy individuals who barely remember a time when email and mobile were not seen as essential to everyday work.

Changing behaviours are evident: statistics suggest that 55% of emails are now opened on a mobile device (Source: Litmus 2016). With fewer traditional working boundaries, millennials are streamlining personal and professional lives on their smartphones.

Local government will undoubtedly have to adapt to prepare for this new norm in order to recruit the best talent, but the real challenge is security. One of the biggest issues is managing 'bring your own device' (BYOD). Public sector work is increasingly mobile, so it isn’t unusual for work to be carried out remotely or in the field. Millennials and now many others in the remote workforce prefer to use the same consumer-based apps they are already familiar with, but may not be approved by IT.

Gartner predicts that by 2017, just over half of companies will go as far as making it a requirement that employees bring their own devices. At the same time though, many, particularly in the UK public sector, have banned BYOD rollouts because of security concerns.

Preparing an organisation for the future is critical, but understandably, security should be a top priority. The ease and convenience of BYOD makes sense under the right circumstances, and ultimately, when approached correctly, mobility can be made safe whilst also continuing to enhance productivity through effective management.

Managing citizen data

Managing mobility is a complicated but important process. Productivity and security are both critical to organisational success. A breach in local government can have a detrimental impact on an organisation, their work and their constituents’ because of the direct risk to the data of citizens. The public perception of an organisation dealing with the aftermath of a data breach usually results in loss of trust or potential change of staffing, depending on the severity of the issue.

To effectively manage mobility, increase productivity and maintain security, IT managers should look to employ an enterprise mobility management strategy. With an effective mobility strategy, an organisation can safeguard mobile productivity and network security, whilst adding value to organisational objectives.

The challenge in implementing an enterprise mobility management strategy is working out where the potential gaps in security could exist. The aim is to make security an integral but unobtrusive aspect of employees’ interactions with work. Mobile management strategies should be used to ensure employees have the tools required to safely transfer and access information without hindering their productivity.

Start with data

Mobility management should start with the data. Users need to securely access information externally to avoid proprietary data needs being stored outside the walls of the company or accessed via an unapproved method. Organisations with an IT infrastructure primarily based on-premises can use a file transfer or synchronization solution to provide users with the ability to share and access corporate data anytime on any device, while giving IT departments the administrative oversight, control, and security necessary to keep users and corporate assets safe.

The next step should be to examine tools being used to move data in order to ensure the information is being moved into and outside of the organisation securely and easily. When looking to add controls that allow you to restrict users or provide notifications when sensitive information is shared with unauthorised parties, consider a data loss prevention solution.

With so many employees on the go, and a demand from the new millennial workforce for more flexibility, enabling some levels of mobile engagement is essential to future success and talent resourcing in local government. Mobility and BYOD can, however, be made to minimise potential risks. Organisations simply need to adopt the right tools and policies to make the technology as secure as possible.

Peter Merkulov is vice president of product strategy and technology alliances at Globalscape.

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