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Navigating Through Device Security

1 Jul 2016 by Jake Poinier

According to the newest Cisco Visual Networking Index, traffic from wireless and mobile devices is expected to account for two-thirds of total IP traffic by 2020. In the consumer space, the rapid expansion in smartphones and tablets tracks along with booming social media and entertainment usage. But it's the application to learning and education that Brett Kelsey, vice president and chief technology officer, Americas for Intel Security, perceives as changing the IT landscape over the coming decade.

"What happens in the consumer space quickly bleeds into corporate space," he says. "The millennials and younger kids are fundamentally being trained to work on mobile devices, when you look at Google and Microsoft, and what they've provided as cloud-adapted platforms for education."

Millennials — who will represent around 70% of the labor pool in 2025 — are bringing a different mindset, skill set and capabilities to the corporate world. Having been raised in the age of mobile, they're also bringing an expectation that they'll have access to their files, anywhere, anytime, all the time.

From a security perspective, this trend creates two forms of shadow IT. The first comes from the use of cloud-based resources such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive for data storage. The second is the fact that data also resides locally on the various devices — and those devices often lack the capability to sufficiently protect sensitive corporate data.

"In the corporate environment, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are convenient for users, but they can create a pretty severe operational impact when you introduce a large quantity of devices, device types and operating systems," Kelsey says. "You want to have security-based capabilities on those local devices to protect corporate data, while you don't care if it's benign, like a grocery list."

Mobile security management options

How best to strike the balance between access and security? Some of the trends include:

  • Device management — For some businesses and within the government, adoption of Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) programs rather than BYOD can mitigate some of the issues. In such cases, an IT department creates an approved list of devices that can be managed and secured in that particular environment.
  • Reserved spectrum — The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) established by Congress a few years ago reserves a single communications band across the United States for first responders such as police, ambulance and fire departments. FirstNet creates standards around protocols, encryption and other elements to ensure communications are secure, as well as the data or content that resides on the devices.
  • Device improvements — Leveraging its unique position in the middle of the manufacturing process, Intel Security has developed the Intel Android, which provides additional security through a specialized chipset and software to create an entire unified solution.

Challenges ahead

Faster data transfer creates a better user experience, but it also facilitates the ability of cybercriminals to reach into a device and extract data. "As fast as LTE or 4G are today, it doesn't make sense to use mobile devices running that technology as an attack platform or for data exfiltration," Kelsey says. "When we start getting into 5G and 6G, and you start to see the quantities of bandwidth increase 10 times, someone can extract data very quickly. At some point, that is going to become a very serious issue from a data exfiltration and attack platform perspective."

Kelsey also projects an uptick in attacks that go beyond getting data from the devices themselves. "The device itself may not be that interesting, but what it can give me is a connection back to your corporate entity," he says. "If I can get my hands on an outward-bound, mobile-based device, I can use it to jump off and get into the company's environment from the phone itself."

Won't a Virtual Private Network (VPN) protect you? As discussed in “Batten Down the Hatches of Your Data Center,” networks are increasingly a blind spot between the device and a corporate component, and a VPN simply establishes a secure tunnel. "If I compromise a device and I own that platform, I can take that compromised phone and go straight through the pre-negotiated VPN into the corporate environment," Kelsey says.

Charting your device tack

As an Intel Technology Provider Platinum partner for more than 10 years, Insight has assisted clients in a wide variety of industries to implement mobile device programs. Even so, you may not be sure which Intel-powered device would fit your business best.

We created an easy-to-use tool to help you find the perfect device match based on your needs and requirements. Still undecided?

Our Battle Pack helps you make an informed technology purchase by letting you test-drive different Intel-powered devices first. Order your kit and receive a variety of desktops, notebooks, tablets or 2-in-1s.

When you’re ready to ramp up the security of your corporate devices, contact an Intel specialist for help or with questions.