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FCW : March 15, 2016
According to a recent survey conducted by Lookout, 50 percent of feds use personal mobile devices to access their work email, and 49 percent download work documents to personal devices. Unfortunately, those devices aren’t as secure as they could be. Eleven percent of mobile devices associated with government networks have had “serious mobile threat encounters,” and 18 percent of federal employees said they have encountered mal- ware on their personal and government-issued smart- phones, according to Look- out. About seven percent of federal employees said they jailbreak or root the devices they use for work, which could expose them to unpatched vulnerabilities and malware. An even higher number, 24 percent, download applica- tions from outside the official channels, meaning the apps aren’t getting the same scru- tiny as those in the Apple and Google app stores. And 49 percent of federal employees say they don’t have a security app or solution installed on their mobile devices. Mobile security isn’t all bad news, however. Accord- ing to Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, mobile devices have not been linked to any substantial loss of data — yet. “Mobile breaches have been few and far between over the years,” the report states. However, that doesn’t mean mobile devices haven’t con- tributed to data breaches or that compromised devices aren’t being abused in other ways. Hacked devices can be used to track the location of federal employees, listen in on their conversations or send legitimate-seeming mes- sages to other government officials. In the massive breach of the Office of Personnel Man- agement’s systems, “credentials were used to access the data,” said Bob Stevens, vice president of Lookout Federal Systems. “Those credentials could have been stolen off a mobile device.” “It doesn’t mean that mobile devices aren’t leak- ing data — it’s that they aren’t leading to the large- scale breaches,” said Chris Crowley, an independent consultant and instructor at the SANS Institute who has worked on mobile device deployment and security at the Energy and Defense departments. Instead, he said, agencies are seeing small-scale loss of data such as contact informa- tion via mobile applications. They’re also seeing instances of unauthorized tracking of individuals and vulnerabilities that result in the ability to monitor communications. “What seems to be a large problem for organizations is loss of data when physical control of the device is lost because physical devices are easily lost or dropped,” Crowley said. Another big challenge is high-ranking officials’ penchant for ignoring security policies. “I have personally encoun- tered the problem where executives exempt themselves from restrictions,” he said. “Some people will even do Why mobile data security matters BY MARIA KOROLOV Keeping employees from using their personal mobile devices at work is a losing battle — and it’s challenging agencies to come up with new ways to secure government data ExecTe c h 22 March 15, 2016 FCW.COM “It doesn’t mean that mobile devices aren’t leaking data — it’s that they aren’t leading to the large-scale breaches.” CHRIS CROWLEY, SANS INSTITUTE 031516fcw_022-025.indd 22 2/23/16 11:39 AM
March 30, 2016