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Improve a mobile security strategy with the right policies

IT must factor mobile users into its security plan. Intrusive applications and stolen devices are major security issues, but IT can account for these threats with proper planning.

Any organization that includes mobile devices among its managed endpoints must tailor its overall security plan to address specific mobile-related issues.

A mobile security strategy is different from a typical endpoint security plan because mobile devices face unique threats. Due to their size, mobile devices are much easier to lose than a laptop. Another concern is the information that potentially malicious mobile applications can access, such as contacts and email. On top of these threats, mobile devices are most often associated with remote use, so they can fall prey to remote access-specific security threats, such as users connecting to insecure networks.

To address these mobile-specific security concerns, IT must develop a strategy to provide mobile workers with secure access to resources. A good mobile security strategy involves tools and best practices that don't hinder the end-user experience.

Include mobile threat defense tools

­Mobile threat defense is often the bulk of a mobile security strategy. These tools include virtual private networks to secure users' network connections, native device encryption to prevent attackers from accessing the device, and numerous other functions and utilities.

IT professionals should look at the mobile threat detection functions of different mobile threat defense tools when selecting one. Mobile threat detection is one of the key features of mobile threat defense, and it is driven by the analytics engine that monitors and tracks user behavior to compare it against historical data. The engines use AI capabilities, such as machine learning, to improve pattern recognition and behavior monitoring on devices' apps and more.

IT doesn't have to blacklist everything from Angry Birds to Candy Crush; instead, the users can only download and access whitelisted work-related applications.

Mobile threat detection tools also monitor devices down to the API level. If any major changes occur, such as changes in configuration, these tools alert administrators so they can investigate the suspicious behavior. These tools can also scan mobile applications. Harmful applications could be outright malicious, or they simply could be inadvertently harmful due to vulnerabilities. This isn't the only option that admins have for securing apps with a mobile threat defense tool.

IT can also deploy an application blacklist or whitelist with mobile threat defense tools as part of its mobile security strategy. A mobile application blacklist is a list of common apps that IT wants to prevent mobile users from downloading and using.

Mobile administrators can use these blacklists to receive a notification whenever a user tries to download one of the listed applications. IT can also disable or uninstall the application and even send users a notification or email reminding them of the blacklist. If an organization wants to prohibit users from downloading distracting applications, such as social media or mobile games, a whitelist may be better. IT doesn't have to blacklist everything from Angry Birds to Candy Crush; instead, the users can only download and access whitelisted, work-related applications.

In some cases, mobile threat detection tools can clash with the restrictions of public app stores. For example, some vendors design mobile threat detection to query devices to see what users have installed, but the Apple App Store prohibits this action. Unified endpoint management platforms often include mobile threat detection integrations, which enable IT pros to avoid this issue by enforcing certain device policies.

Form a mobile incident response strategy

Mobile incident response is a set of best practices for IT to follow when there is a mobile security incident. IT professionals must develop a comprehensive mobile security strategy to handle any attacks or security breaches with users' mobile devices.

When preventative mobile security measures fail, IT needs to take actions to contain the breach. This process could involve a password reset for any account with suspicious activity or a confirmed breach on a mobile device.

Admins can also perform a remote wipe, which deletes some or all of the data on a device, if they believe that the device has been compromised. While this step may sound drastic, proper data backup measures will ensure that the data isn't lost forever. IT must also find a way to alert users as soon as it has information on a potential breach. The alert should include the next steps for a user and prompt the user to provide any relevant information that can help IT.

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What is your best bit of advice for IT pros looking to improve their mobile device security?
Hi John - one step could be reading this white paper on post-perimeter security: