Sunday, September 23, 2012

BYOD Usage in Federal Agencies in the US

Interesting numbers and I picked up from the press release of CDW-G report and have sort of summarized for easy reading. Below I have added the link for those who need to read the complete report. BTW the report is dated February 2012 – sort of 7 months old but I don’t think anything has changed since then rather than growing in the same direction.

CDW-G aka Government LLC, is a leading provider of technology solutions to government, education and healthcare customers, announced the results of its first Federal Mobility Report. The report was based on a survey done with 414 federal employees and IT staff across the country (across US). This report provides information on the current trends in mobility or the usage of BYOD across the federal employees and how agency IT professionals are managing mobile devices and the steps they are taking to secure Federal data.

Some of the numbers are really startling.  More than half of Federal employees use at least one mobile device at work, and many are using personal devices to accomplish work-related tasks. Nearly all Federal employees who use a mobile device for work believe the device makes them more productive, and the majority says increased mobility will improve citizen service. Mobility is no longer just a nice-to-have capability, CDW-G found: Nearly all 203 Federal IT professionals (99 percent) said they have deployed mobile devices to their agency workforce. More interesting fact is that 62 percent of those IT professionals said their agencies allow employees to use personal devices for work.

"Mobility is the 'new normal' for Federal employees," said Bob Kirby, VP of federal government for CDW-G. "Employees increasingly expect to be able to work anywhere and at any time. Agencies responded first by deploying mobile devices, and now they are enabling use of personal devices. And the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is likely to continue, following the Obama administration's November 2011 executive order that asked agencies to limit the number of IT devices they issue to employees, including mobile devices, in order to reduce costs."

When it comes to security of sensitive data, here are the numbers. 85% have undergone mobile data security policies. 82% of IT professionals said their agency deployed encryption for mobile devices, 54% said their agency protects mobile devices with multi-factor authentication, 45% said about remote lock and wipe and 39% said about data loss prevention software. 71 percent of Federal IT professionals say they include MDM in their security efforts, CDW-G found that most are not deploying a full suite of security tools to agency and personal devices via MDM, revealing an opportunity to improve agencies' security posture.

This is where I personally feel they should have a BYOD analytics tool first to see what is happening in the network, how many such devices are there in the network, complete logging of user usage of such devices including monitoring and also analytics to see what applications are using what services including monitoring how many devices have some form of MDM installed and how many are there with no such software installed (data encryption, remote lock & wipe, authentication software, some form of MDM etc).

The real worry especially in this industry or the segment (Federal agencies) is that they have access to wide variety of data from financial information to employee and taxpayer records to email/social networking accounts etc. With cyber threat getting worse and complex by the day and considering the fact that they target federal agencies and their employees fat more than any verticals it is imperative to find what is happening and what and how each one of the security hole needs to be fixed.

Author is the CEO of i7 networks which works on next gen analytics and intelligence related to bandwidth, security & BYOD

*Link for the complete report: Press Release for CDW-G report

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