Government Goes Mobile

The same mobile technology trends affecting the businessworld are rippling through the federal government. As federal agencies look tobecome more efficient, they?re embracing the same bring your own device (BYOD) approach that?s washing over theprivate sector and, not surprisingly, facing many of the same challenges.

Mobility is rapidly becoming a must-have capability,according to CDW-G?s first Federal Mobility Report. The IT retailer surveyed414 federal employees and IT staff and found that 99 percent of ITprofessionals report that they have deployed mobile devices to their workforce and62 percent allow personal devices for work. Overall, 60 percent of federalemployees use laptops, 36 percent rely on smartphones and 9 percent usetablets.

?Mobility is the ‘new normal? for Federal employees.  It is no longer a nice-to-have capability,says Neal Campbell, senior vice president of CDW.

The BYOD trend will certainly gain further momentum, thanksto a directive signed by President Obama in November 2011. It limits the use ofIT devices, including mobile technology, in order to reduce costs.

The study also found that agencies are approaching mobile securitywith mixed results. On the upside, an overwhelming 85 percent of agencies haveintroduced mobile data security policies and 84 percent require data securitytraining for mobile users. IT professionals also report that 82 percent ofagencies use mobile encryption.

On the downside, only 54 percent rely on multi-factorauthentication, 45 percent use remote wipe, 44 percent have set up automaticsoftware updates, 43 percent have deployed tools to prevent unauthorizeddownloads and 39 percent use data loss prevention software. As a rule, bestpractice organizations use these tools to build a more comprehensive securitystrategy.

The study also found that government agencies are lagging inthe adopting of mobile device management (MDM) solutions. Although 71 percentof agencies say that they include MDM in their security efforts, many are notusing the full suite of capabilities it offers.

Bob Kirby, vice president of federal government for CDW-G,says that agencies can benefit by adopting best practices. These include:evaluating and/or establishing a BYOD policy; assessing MDM requirements;auditing MDM tools to ensure that they meet the agency?s security goals; andincorporating the personal devices employees use into an agency?s MDM strategy.

?Federal employees are clamoring for mobile capabilities,? Campbellexplains. However, ?As mobile device use expands, it is more important thanever to lock down data and devices.?