How government agencies can encourage employee mobility while preventing network security threats (with related video)
Government employees are increasingly demanding the ability to work on their personal devices like their friends in the private sector, and they are asking for anytime, anywhere access to their employers’ networks. Federal, state and local agencies are scrambling to implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies to keep workers happy and productive. In fact, a recent study by the Mobile Work Exchange found that 40 percent of government agencies have implemented or will implement BYOD within the next two years.
At the same time that BYOD is becoming more pervasive, new mobile threat vectors are emerging to exploit the ever-widening array of devices and operating systems that are connecting to all enterprise networks, including public sector networks. As a result, it is important for government organizations to find solutions that give employees the freedom to use their own mobile devices, while preventing sensitive information from being exposed.
Agencies should begin by first updating their remote access policies with BYOD in mind. It’s important that three security objectives are kept in mind: Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA). Modern remote access policies should achieve these objectives with a universal and integrated approach to network security. System threat models for mobile devices are worthwhile to consider at this stage, to examine potential network vulnerabilities and to analyze where security controls need to be improved.
In choosing a remote access solution for BYOD, interoperability is critical to ensure maximum security. As more types of devices are accessing a network, every security and network component needs to be in constant communication to coordinate a comprehensive defense-in-depth strategy that can adapt to prevent a variety of threats.
Central management is another key feature that agencies should look for in a remote access solution to maintain compliance. With such a solution, government IT departments can easily monitor adherence to security guidelines, roll out updates and revoke user access immediately, in case a device is compromised.
To further guarantee network security, agencies should periodically conduct assessments to make sure that mobile device policies, procedures and solutions are working properly. With continual monitoring, the right remote access components and BYOD policies in place, government agencies can have peace of mind that their workers are able to safely and securely work on their devices.
Patrick Oliver Graf is general manager, Americas of NCP engineering. His company sells its remote-access virtual private network (VPN) solutions to government agencies and other organizations. A total of 24 federal, state and local agencies have equipped themselves with NCP’s technology for fast, secure access to their network resources and communication of sensitive data. The company has U.S. offices in Mountain View, Calif.
Editor's note: GPN will feature security products in the GPN October Information Technology section.
This video outlines what is needed in a secure VPN.