Home How to Secure Your Enterprise in the Post-PC Era

How to Secure Your Enterprise in the Post-PC Era

It’s happening: a shift to a post-PC era. Forrester defines a post-PC device as one with a screen, processor, memory, and storage but “in a lesser way than PCs.” Examples include iPads, smart phones and e-readers such as the Kindle. In a new report, Forrester predict that this will be the year that post-PC devices eclipse PCs in the enterprise. There are a number of factors driving this, including pressure from executives who want to use the latest devices. Regardless, it’s a shift that’s happening: more and more enterprises are embracing these devices.

The Good News

  • Malware is less of a threat: According to Forrester, mobile OSes provide a smaller attack surface, and malicious applications can do less damage. The examples of mobile malware we’ve seen so far have been pretty low-risk. There will be mobile malware – not even Apple’s screening policies will keep malware from slipping through the cracks – but it will be less frequent and less severe than Windows malware outbreaks.
  • SMS can be used for two-factor authentication: Forrester notes that unlike PCs, which have only one network pathway into and out of a device (TCP/IP), most post-PC devices can use two-factor authentication via SMS.
  • Security costs less: Forrester estimates that the average PC needs $400 worth of aftermarket security software and services over three years. End-point security suites, disk encryption, compliance auditing, etc. can really rack up a big bill. Forrester expects the sort of “all-in-one” security provided by device management vendors to keep the cost of securing post-PC devices down.

The Bad News

  • Portable devices are easier to lose or steal
  • You might not be able to control software deployment Particularly when dealing with employee-owned devices, you may not be able to lock-down post-PC software deployment the way you could in the past. Even if you can restrict access to downloads, you may still be depending on third parties such as the App Store to deploy approved software.
  • Support is a lot more complicated: Plain and simple: the different types of devices you have, the more complicated support gets. (I feel for the corporate help desk staff of the future.)
  • PC and Post-PC device management convergence is still years away: There are quite a few mobile device management vendors, but Forrester says we’re still years away from a unified PC and Post-PC device management convergence.
  • There are legal uncertainties about data ownership: According to the report, “questions of data ownership, data protection responsibilities, and privacy boundaries on both personally owned and (surprisingly) corporate devices are anything but settled.”

Forrester’s Recommendations

  • Build an information control strategy for your devices.
  • Let device capabilities, not brands, drive support decisions.
  • Build a multidevice management capability. (See also Top 10 Most Important Features for Enterprise Smartphone Management Solutions.)
  • Merge security and mobile operations management.
  • Set up a company app store. (JackBe is offering the tools to do this already)
  • Ignore security vendor hype. “Instead, use mDm tools to manage the real risks: user-installed apps that are overprivileged or overshare — not malware,” says the report.
  • Use thin-clients like Citrix Receiver to limit exposure. Reducing the amount of data on these devices reduces the risks associated with having them lost or stolen. Using mobile web apps instead of native apps may help too.

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