Bob Stevens is vice president of public sector at Lookout.
In any enterprise vertical, mobility has become the foundation for enabling productivity and business success — and the same shift can (and should) happen in the federal arena. From enhancing citizen-facing services to advancing workforce communications to supporting military data gathering and sharing to and from the battlefield, mobility can transform mission success on many levels.
However, achieving this high-level of mission success is becoming more difficult without the use of mobile devices, or highly restrictive use policies. According to a recent Government Executive study sponsored by Ruckus Networks, 22 percent of government employees are not allowed to use their personal devices at all, and 40 percent of those who can, report having to jump through onerous IT policy hoops. The study also found that 61 percent of respondents felt that security concerns trump and interfere with workplace efficiency.
Mobility needs to be built into the way agencies do business, and any obstacles to accessing work-related data on mobile devices need to be fully removed.
Today, mobility has changed the government IT landscape. Workers have become accustomed to IT evolving around their changing needs, as opposed to being only a desktop function. This means that mobility is becoming the foundation for how IT supports the business of government, allowing workers be connected anytime, anywhere.
According to a 2016 Frost & Sullivan report, 20 percent of employees work from small satellite offices, more than 13 percent are mobile workers, and nearly 25 percent work full- or part-time from home.
Enabling workforce success through mobility is also a core component of the 2012 Defense Department mobile device strategy.
“This strategy is not simply about embracing the newest technology — it is about keeping the DOD workforce relevant in an era when information and cyberspace play a critical role in mission success,” stated former DOD Chief Information Officer Teri Takai.
In addition, the pace of innovation is moving so rapidly that the business of government can ultimately transform in ways that allow highly agile workforces to leverage new technologies that improve employee performance. In other words, the future of government mission success lies in the mobile arena.
According to Darrell M. West, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution, by 2030, government will be composed of a remote workforce fully armed all of the mobile and collaboration innovations for accountability and success.
For full adoption of mobility strategies, today’s federal cybersecurity executives serve as the gatekeepers and enablers for bringing this vision to life. Though, one of the key challenges for these executives is embracing widely used innovations that also don’t provide a gateway for data breaches and other cyber threats.
Of course, mobile cyber concerns are very valid. According to a recent Lookout survey of 200 government IT and cybersecurity specialists, 60.5 percent of government agencies reported they had experienced a security incident involving a mobile device.
Fortunately, today’s mobile endpoint security solutions can help federal cybersecurity executives be mission enablers. These offerings allow agencies to protect employee- and government-owned devices from mobile threats based in the app, network, or device layer. It’s also possible to discover emerging threats.
These types of solutions are already being brought to the forefront. In late 2017, the Homeland Security Department Science and Technology Directorate announced it is financing a new research-and-development program to create a mobile endpoint security solution that enables the federal government to accomplish its mission. DHS understands that without the proper mobile security, agencies cannot maintain a technologically competitive advantage or protect themselves from data compromise.
The future of mobile enhancing the business of government is already upon us. Federal cybersecurity can now actively advance mission success through the adoption of comprehensive security strategies grounded in the use of the right mobile endpoint security solutions.