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With workers more likely to use a personal device for work, companies are less likely to be able to specifically configure the mobile devices that have access to the corporate network. Add to that the fact the software ecosystem surrounding mobile devices is, to a large degree and depending on platform, closed. Less access means attackers have a harder time hacking the devices, but that also means third-party firms are harder pressed to provide solutions to the problems mobile devices do have.
For those reasons, the recommendations are that, rather than focus on securing each device, IT groups should look to educate users, set good security policies, secure access, and help manage the devices, said John Engels, principal product management for Symantec's enterprise mobility group.
"We are trying to surround the devices with security and protect and control what goes into the device and what comes out of it," Engels said.
A key component to the approach is mobile device management (MDM), which initially took off as a way to keep track of all the costs associated with a company's gaggle of cell phones, but increasingly has a security role as well.
The four major threats to mobile devices are device theft (or forgetful employees), wireless network sniffing of communications, malicious software, and the infrequent direct attack. Of those four major threats, however, MDM mainly solves only one: lost and stolen devices, said Dan Hoffman, chief mobile security analyst for Juniper Networks.
"When you look at mobile device management, it does nothing for malware, nothing for a direct attack, and nothing for data communication interception," Hoffman said.
For that reason, companies have to look beyond just adopting MDM solutions, he said. Here are four recommendations:
1. Know the threats.
As any carny knows, the easiest mark is one who is not paying attention.