By Omar Rafik, SolarWinds Senior Manager, Federal Sales Engineering


Here’s an interesting article on BYOD, including data on DHS employees. I feel that, in some cases, a better balance needs to be achieved on this issue.


Agencies are still grappling with the types of devices using their networks and making device security a non-issue. Today, the mobile device challenge has gotten even more complex.


Welcome to BYOD’s second act, which may be even bigger than the first.


The numbers from the Department of Homeland Security tell the tale. According to DHS, its employees are currently using 90,000 devices. Thirty-eight percent of those employees are using government-issued devices, while the rest rely on their personal iPhone or Android mobile devices.


Although policies and guidance attempt to ensure mobile device security, initiatives like the DHS Mobile Device Security project and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) Policy No. 11 go only so far. Employees don’t necessarily want to carry highly encrypted or modified devices. Like everyone else, they are accustomed to their phones being easy to use, not a burden.


While programs like these are necessary, and must be encouraged and followed, agencies should consider augmenting their mobile device security efforts with a few additional strategies.


Let employees keep their devices. Employees will inevitably use their personal devices over government networks. The trick is to make those devices secure while letting employees continue to use them with minimal inconvenience.


Keep tabs on those devices. Agencies must balance the reality of personal device use with security measures that allow administrators to easily manage and secure those devices, preferably from a central location. Administrators should be able to remotely wipe, lock, set passwords on devices, and implement mobile device tracking that uses GPS to find lost and stolen devices.


Go beyond the devices into the network itself. Automated threat monitoring solutions that employ constantly updated threat intelligence and continuously scan for potential anomalies are good places to start. Agency teams should consider complementing this tactic with user device tracking to quickly identify and locate unauthorized devices. Monitoring and capturing network logins and other events can also help detect questionable network activity and prevent unwanted intrusions.


Get a handle on bandwidth. Device management also involves managing the impact that devices can have on the network. Mobile devices used for bandwidth-hogging applications, such as video, can significantly slow down the network. Agency administrators should consider implementing network bandwidth analysis solutions that allow them to identify which applications and endpoints are consuming the most bandwidth. Through device tracking, they can also track excessive bandwidth usage back to a particular user and mobile device.


Although most of the focus on BYOD has been on security, mobile device management really must be a two-pronged approach. Security is and always will be important, but the ability to ensure that networks continue to operate efficiently and effectively in the midst of a device onslaught is also critical.


It’s also something that many agencies are still grappling with, nearly 10 years after BYOD was first introduced. We’ve come a long way since then, as the programs initiated by the DHS and other agencies show. But we still have far to go.


Find the full article on Government Computer News.


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