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Manage applications to increase mobile security

Application security has been gaining attention since LinkedIn's calendar application sent private user data to LinkedIn's servers.


Manage applications to increase mobile security

byod, mobile application management, security

Application security has been gaining attention since LinkedIn's calendar application sent private user data to LinkedIn's servers. Many user and organizational concerns stem from a lack of transparency in how and why applications access data stored on mobile devices.

A recent ZDNet article highlighted comments from Android Security Engineer Jon Larimer, who discussed the issue of app security in detail. Although Larimer spoke primarily about developers regarding app security, his statements do impact workers and organizations that use and deploy mobile devices. It is important to ensure insecure apps remain separate from the corporate environment.

"Larimer argued that every single component of an app can be exposing data if you aren't taking the necessary precautions, whether it's the log file, settings file, the web service, or the data being transmitted over the network," the article states. "Then again, developers have a lot more to worry about than just the apps they develop, such as insecure wireless networks and cases of lost and stolen devices."

Larimer also described the domino effect that can be triggered by a single insecure app. A security vulnerability in one app could allow other apps to gain access to sensitive data without permission. That makes it important for enterprises to adopt mobile application management (MAM) solutions to ensure the security of all enterprise apps. As an added bonus, MAM can also reduce the costs associated with mobile security.

Software solutions provide cost-effective mobile device security

Enterprises could save a significant amount of money by shifting from hardware-based authentication, according to a recent study by Encap. Solutions such one-time password devices are significantly more expensive than software-based approaches. Companies with 3,000 or more employees could save as much as $165,000 in three years in the form of reduced deployment and hardware replacement costs.

"The BYOD trend is growing, and employees are demanding access to enterprise applications quickly and securely, no matter where they are or what device they are using," said Sarah Wallace, analyst for Heavy Reading. "A solution that allows access to these services regardless of the device, location or network in a secure manner is invaluable to enterprise IT managers."

Hardware replacements cost over 90 percent more than software-based approaches, according to Encap. The average cost-per-user for hardware authentication is $35, compared with $15 for a software approach. In addition to deployment costs, Encap found the total cost of ownership for one-time password solutions can be more than twice the cost of authentication software. Mobile OTP soft token approaches were more than 1.5 times more expensive.

Authentication can be quickly implemented with MAM software. With MAM, the enterprise can take advantage of cost savings achieved through software without excessive oversight from IT.

Mobile application management advantages

One of the traditional challenges to enterprise mobility has been the company's ability to manage applications across employee-owned devices. According to a CIO article, the amount of IT overhead required for application management presented a significant hurdle for mobility trends such as BYOD.

Robust mobile application management solutions solve this problem, providing a central tool for managing applications for iPhones, iPads and Adroid devices. The article also highlights the advantage of enterprise app stores, which empower employees with a self-service model. App stores can provide employees with both public and company-developed security and productivity apps, while MAM can enforce application policies by whitelisting acceptable applications.

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