Security in the Age of the Mobile Workforce

The mobile workforce presents unique security concerns for IT. How can enterprises protect their data?The mobile workforce is a boon for enterprises. No longer constrained by geographical concerns when hiring, corporations are able to attract the best talent and offer them a high level of flexibility and the ability to collaborate with their peers across the globe.

Remote access allows employees to work from wherever they are, and field employees can access all the data and resources they need on their mobile devices. In addition, companies save on travel expenses as their employees enjoy the ability to hold virtual meetings in which collaborative software makes it easy to brainstorm and discuss a project.

Increasing Cloud Migration 

The rise of the mobile workforce wouldn’t be possible without the increasing adoption of cloud technology. These two growth areas are intertwined and present a complex security landscape for IT. Here are a few of the concerns on the minds of CIOs trying to protect their systems and data:

  • Providing a secure and reliable data connection for the mobile workforce
  • The complexity of bring your own device (BYOD) culture
  • Supporting technology for a global team, including syncing time differences and facing infrastructure challenges and language barriers

Security in the Cloud

With so much data flying around the mobile workforce, data centers, and the cloud, there’s a lot of opportunity for security breaches, which can be costly in terms of disaster recovery and from a public relations perspective. Every CIO faces concerns when they consider allowing all of their data to move outside the relative safety of carefully-constructed corporate firewalls.

The good news is that the cloud can be as safe as any corporate environment with the right security tools in place. In addition, disaster recovery tends to be much less costly than it is in an on-premise system. The flooding of a data center in a river valley, for instance, won’t cause an interruption in business processes because the data is stored in the cloud.

Putting out Fires

Many CIOs, confronted by the complexity of security in the age of the mobile workforce, are turning to managed services for a variety of areas, including mobile security. In a changing landscape in which cloud and mobile technology are significantly disrupting the IT industry, CIOs are realizing the value of outsourcing some aspects of security management. It frees them to focus on strategy and innovation, rather than putting out security fires.

The mobile workforce adds a new layer of security concern to an already complicated cloud environment. Talk to your clients about outsourcing their security, with Focal Solutions as your partner. Contact us today to discuss the new challenges in mobile security.


Enterprise Mobility and Cloud Technology Work Together to Bring Value to Your Business

Enterprise mobilityTwo trends currently shaping IT environments are the demand for enterprise mobility and the shift to cloud technology. They are complementary in nature, driving cost savings, employee flexibility and increased productivity.

Here are three factors influencing the side-by-side increase of enterprise mobility and cloud technology:

It’s the mobile age: Mobile devices are claiming more and more Internet traffic, with users far preferring to browse the Internet using a tablet or their phone over a laptop or desktop computer. The trend allows for greater connectivity for the workforce, significantly increasing the number of productive work hours each week.

In addition to connectivity, companies also have the ability to mine important information related to consumer behaviors and employee processes via mobile technology.

Remote and field workers aren’t going back to the office: Mobile and cloud technology have made it convenient for a significant segment of the workforce to increase productivity without ever entering an office building. These workers are able to access the same information through mobile enterprise technology that’s stored in the cloud and never have to come to the office to finalize a form or enter data.

A convergence of data unity: Another factor influencing the increase in mobile-first priorities and cloud technology is the ability to manage security and data across a variety of devices and users in the cloud. Managing these elements with on-premise software is complex and time-consuming, but it’s streamlined with a cloud solution that unites every user and device under one umbrella.

Implementing a mobile-first cloud solution gives you added value in these areas:

Cost effectiveness: With little-to-no investment in hardware, a scalable subscription monthly fee and none of the hassle of updates, cloud solutions are an affordable alternative to on-premise software.

Increased productivity: With connected workflows, seamless integration and other removals of barriers and bottlenecks, companies that embrace cloud software experience increased productivity.

Remove the burdens: Your cloud provider handles implementation and updates, removing significant interruptions in business processes.

Accessibility: A mobile enterprise cloud solution enables your staff to work from anywhere, any time. Not only is there a centralized system for managing data, but your staff can access and manipulate data while out in the field or working remotely.

Refined sales targets: The use of mobile technology and customer-focused apps allows you to mine information that can transform your sales approach. You’ll know more about the activities and behaviors of those that visit your app or website and be able to pinpoint more clearly the conversion from lead to customer.

Focal Solutions works as your partner through your mobile enterprise cloud solution implementation. From helping you to find the service that will be most beneficial to your company, to coming alongside you through the process, Focal Solutions works with you to ensure a seamless transition and operation.

When Moving to the Cloud Is an Easy Decision

Moving to the cloudThe decision of moving to the cloud is one that many organizations spend a lot of time and energy making. Whether an organization moves to the cloud or not will depend both on its business needs and its technology needs. However, there are some instances where moving to the cloud is an easy decision to make.

Global, Online Customers

For a business that has online customers from all around the world, the cloud can be the boost that enables the organization to continue to grow. Global customers want a quick and accurate response time no matter where they are in relation to the location of the business.

Two ways that the cloud helps with this are geographical spread between data centers and how the cloud provider handles failures.

  • Geographic Distance Between Servers: The cloud enables a business’s servers to be located in any part of the world–not confined to the same geographic area as the business itself. This means that customers on the opposite side of the globe can access the server nearest them, which will result in improved response times.
  • Redundancy: Cloud-based solutions have higher redundancy levels than traditional solutions. Businesses looking to have more of a global reach should ensure that their service level agreement with their cloud provider includes a provision for uptime, which translates into more availability for customers.

Mobility in the Field

Sales and quality personnel are no longer restricted to places they can go physically–which can often include the expenses of flights, lodging, and food– when an organization moves to the cloud. Rather than flying across the world, employees can complete their work on mobile interfaces like smartphones and tablets.

Even if these personnel do have to make field visits, entering data to the cloud means that data is almost always uploaded, even if it has to wait until the employee has a better connection to access it. Data that is entered into the system also becomes available to customers more quickly; this enables the business to make faster, better informed decisions.

Mobile Access

Mobile interfaces also are helping simplify access to the cloud. Instead of either having to learn complicated IT systems or having to rely on only the IT department whenever something technological is needed, mobile interfaces and the cloud make it easy for all employees to do their jobs. This can include an organization’s compliance auditors, customer support, and sales personnel.

Uneven Demand

Cloud services give businesses the ability to access solutions like software-as-a-service (SaaS). Many businesses can benefit from an SaaS distribution model, including those in the following verticals:

  • Tourism
  • Education
  • Specialty retail
  • Event management

These businesses and organizations often have seasonal demand for their products or services, which leads to highs and lows in their transactions. Cloud services like SaaS enables these organizations to reduce costs, because they only pay for what they actually use.

Cloud solutions have become an intrinsic part of the technology industry, though many businesses still evaluate the risks and benefits of moving to the cloud. Businesses that aspire to have a more global presence, cut costs, and improve customer relations should consider how moving to the cloud will help them achieve these goals.

What Businesses Need To Know About Security In 2015

Mobile securityThere has been a data security arms race dating back to at least the 1970s. In recent years, however, that arms race has escalated steeply, with many global hacking and black-hat activist groups deploying increasingly sophisticated and wide-spread attacks that are difficult to defend against.

Worse, many of these attacks are done for no reason other than to prove they can be done. The recent high-profile attacks on the Sony and Microsoft gaming networks over Christmas, for example, were engineered by a small group who had no ideological, or monetary goal. Taking down the XBox and Playstation networks was simply an advertisement for the hackers’ do-it-yourself botnet software.

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies similarly bring big security challenges, with the majority of data breaches now coming from plain human error. Networks are growing faster than anyone can oversee them, much less protect them. Companies that desire safety from cyberthreats in 2015 will need to take security more seriously.

Major Network Security Concerns In 2015

1 – Visibility

Today’s Systems Administrator needs the ability to actually see what is happening on the network at any given time. The high-profile attack on Sony Pictures involved many terabytes of data being transferred out of the system, including complete uncompressed movies in production. Had Sony’s sysadmin even known this was happening, the hack could have been shut down far earlier.

Investment in network visibility solutions, such as “smart” systems alerting admins to potential issues, and admins who are capable of understanding what those alerts mean in context of the entire network, is neccessary.

2 - Mobile Application Management (MAM) over Mobile Device Management (MDM)

For many companies, the solution to BYOD security problems was Mobile Device Management (MDM). In this scenario, a business takes direct control of employee devices, dictating installed software and firmware.

The problem here is twofold. First, employees find this extremely intrusive and resent having to give up control of their personal devices. Secondly, MDM is not very effective – there are too many other avenues for attack. Additionally, if MDM damages the device, a nasty blame game and Human Resources problem can erupt.

Mobile Application Management (MAM) is a more valuable investment. By putting protections on the server side, restricting access to data and apps, MAM can block suspicious activity without putting onerous controls on workers’ devices.

3 – Flexibility

Finally, in a more general sense, businesses must find ways to improve cyberthreat response times. Hackers are intensely “in the moment,” monitoring their attacks closely, and quickly adapting attack strategy in response to defensive moves. When system administrators, or network security bots are handcuffed by procedures that guarantee day or week long delays, hackers have the advantage.

Businesses must take network security as seriously as a nation protecting its physical borders. Defense measures, such as Mobile Application Management, improvements in network visibility, and reduced threat response times are paramount. In 2015, anything less is an an open invitation for hackers.