Mobile computing presents new security challenges

IT professionals are finding it hard to avoid discussing mobile computing. As advances in technology and mobile apps on devices like smart phones and wireless tablets push the boundaries of computing further away from convention, companies struggle to move faster to adopt mobile.

How can business leaders allow new devices on the network and still maintain strong security? Within business, mobile devices have moved beyond email, contacts and calendar to the preferred tool for business. Mobility has quickly become a method for companies to transform the way they do business, which can be the differentiator between the business leaders and followers.

Let’s look at the security challenges from the perspective of a traditional environment.

When you have an end-user driven computing model, traditional security strategies fall apart. Customary end-user devices remained on the corporate network, which created a safe haven or walled garden for the corporate data and infrastructure. When organizations consider allowing access to the corporate network through mobile devices, they often expose business to many of the security threats and data loss, which they have been working to prevent since the beginning of networking.

User choice initiatives just add complexity and cost of delivering IT services to support mobility. That’s because there are no standards for devices or software compared to the traditional end-user environment. How are they going to adapt their infrastructure to deliver mobile?

If we are to transform the way we do business by extending beyond the walled garden of traditional computing, we need to modify infrastructure to accommodate mobile. IT does not need to abandon standards to deliver mobility.

Instead we need to examine the intent of the standards. By moving to a published application infrastructure, and using virtualized sessions, IT can achieve greater security and standardization than can be established with traditional computing since the end-user device simply becomes a viewer for the workload.

For example, pay-per-view TV is hosted at a centrally managed location. Users subscribe to programs as they need them and are granted access as appropriate. The program never is contained in the TV; rather it is just a session being viewed. Regardless of what TV brand is being used, the program is viewed in a standard format provided the TV meets minimum requirements. We can do this with IT.

By moving to a mobility ready infrastructure, organizations can transform the way they conduct business without sacrificing security or functionality.

Alan Arenas-Grube is a practice manager for Paragon Development Systems (PDS) in Oconomowoc.  He will be presenting a session on Managing Enterprise Mobility as part of the PDS 2011 Technology Conference, a free event which will take place Sept. 14-15 at the Frontier Airlines Center in Milwaukee.  Business leaders and IT pros are invited to register at www.PDSpc.com.

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