Protecting Data and Applications, No Matter the Use
Mobile devices are everywhere in government today—improving employee productivity, helping advance agencies’ missions, and helping citizens access government services. Security is a critical component of mobility in all areas and any level of government. Today, it's no longer necessary to sacrifice mobile device usability to achieve sufficient security.
Mobile users rely on their devices to improve productivity, regardless of their role. Smartphones and tablets are increasingly popular for field personnel, maintenance and repair technicians, social service workers and traveling executives. The goal is the ability to work anytime, anywhere, in any place, with the same level of security as in the office environment.
Agencies have traditionally had to restrict mobile device usability in some way to ensure proper security. Newer classes of devices, however, let agencies manage settings and profiles at a granular level based on their security requirements, needs and policies. "It's a good way to balance productivity and user preferences with security requirements," says Aaron Kuzmeskus, senior manager at Samsung Electronics America.
First responders, emergency personnel, law enforcement, or anyone who may need to collaborate with others in different agencies or levels of government, also require strict security and flexibility. A Homeland Security agent responding to an incident, for example, may have to collaborate with the NYPD and the Coast Guard—all different agencies with their own devices and security profiles.
In these cases, it makes sense to use a tool that can bridge those security gaps. Samsung has an app, for example, that runs on its Knox platform to let users with securely managed device to safely share sensitive information.
There are others who need the strongest security possible—agencies whose employees work in the areas of intelligence, defense and national security. These agencies already have strict policies in place. Only a handful of highly qualified devices are approved for use in these environments. Highly specialized devices, while fully secure, are expensive and not always user-friendly.
There are ways, however, to configure commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) mobile devices in a way that's fully secure. For example, Samsung's newest commercial mobile devices are built on Knox, a defense-grade mobile security platform. Samsung can customize the platform to work with secure private networks. This lets intelligence and defense agents work securely offline and then securely transmit information via user-friendly mobile devices.
There is one more group using mobile applications to access government applications and data. However, these users don't work for an agency at all. They're private citizens who want to access emergency alerts, apply for licenses, pay parking tickets' learn about their rights as a homebuyer, receive travel advisories, or any number of other digital government services.
It's a growing area. According to a recent report from IBM's Center for the Business of Government, mobile devices accounted for one-third of the traffic to government websites as of July 2015. And that number is expected to increase.
Security is a bit trickier in this case. Agencies have no control over private citizens' mobile devices. To protect themselves, agencies can build their mobile-accessible apps on top of a platform in a way that takes advantage of the device's security. By building an app on top of Knox, for example, the security in the app is actually protected by the hardware. This provides extra protection against any unsecured apps on citizen devices.