Access and Feeds

Mobile Computing: Federal Agencies No Longer Technology Luddites

By Dick Weisinger

Over the last few decades, the Federal Government has gotten a reputation as being a laggard when it comes to technology and automation.  But now, a tight budget constraints are forcing the Feds to be much more aggressive in adopting new technology in order to  try to bring their costs under control.  We’ve already seen the federal government being aggressive in their attitude towards adopting the cloud, and now we see a similar aggressive attitude when it comes to mobile devices.

CDW-G‘s recent Federal Mobility Report, for example, found that 99 percent of federal government agencies have already deployed mobile devices to their agency workforce.  The report found that 62 percent of those Federal IT professionals said their agencies allow employees to use personal devices for work.

The CDW-G report also found that 71 percent of federal IT groups are using Mobile device management (MDM) to enable remote configuration and distribution of applications and data to mobile devices.  MDM can simplify the management of mobile security and can reduce management costs.  But the report found that even though the use of MDM tools was widespread, MDM was not frequently being used for distributing security applications, and the report noted that this was one area that could be improved.

Bob Kirby, vice president of federal government for CDW-G, said that “Federal employees – just like those in other industries – access a wide variety of data in the course of their jobs, from financial information to employee and taxpayer records to email and social networking accounts.  Employees understand the need to keep private information just that – private. But as cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, they need a full suite of security tools to help them…  Mobility is the ‘new normal’ for Federal employees.  Employees increasingly expect to be able to work anywhere and at any time. Agencies responded first by deploying mobile devices, and now they are enabling use of personal devices. And the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is likely to continue, following the Obama administration’s November 2011 executive order that asked agencies to limit the number of IT devices they issue to employees, including mobile devices, in order to reduce costs.”

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One comment on “Mobile Computing: Federal Agencies No Longer Technology Luddites
  1. dsc2078 says:

    Indeed Federal, State, and Local Government are rushing headlong into mobility and the BYOD trend. With tighter budgets and smartphones and tablets which can do much of the work of a laptop with less expense, more freedom, and in many beneficial scenarios more discretion, there is tremendous value to be had.

    However, this market is driven by consumers which means security is very low on the totem pole for most developers. The OEM’s, in many cases are just now catching on to real security instead of window dressing but third party developers have placed little thought on security.

    Worse still is the false sense of security users have with mobile devices. If, and its a big “if” below the Federal level, an MDM used, this is giving users the false sense of security that anything done on their mobile device is secured. This is simply not the case especially with voice and text messaging. These critical aspects of mobility are using the same security they had 20 years ago. Today what little encryption is on voice and text messaging is easily broken, nearly in real time. Calls can be harvested literally hundreds at a time for later analysis with equipment that is freely available and costs less than $1500.

    Its a shame that with the rush to mobility, and all the talk of “mobile security”, the protection of voice and text messaging is all but ignored despte that fact that there are dozens of companies providing end-to-end solution for the protection of this information.

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