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FCW : December 2012
December 2012 FCW.COM 15 security assurance at the Department of Veterans Affairs. "For example, there are far more secure container products than there were six months ago," he said. "This allows VA to explore more options, pri- marily focused around the integration of those technologies into an existing infrastructure." BYOD probably produces more chal- lenges for developers if they try to deliv- er a VA application to a device rather than a virtual environment, he said. In the former case, they would need to ensure that the device s owner had not tampered with the operating system (known as rooting or jailbreaking) and that the data the application would process was encrypted in transit and at rest. "So far, the VA has reduced the number of devices for its staff who occasion- ally travel by allowing them to securely con- nect to some VA appli- cations using their own devices through our virtual access gateway," Kachman said. "Long term, as the technol- ogy matures more, there should be options to further reduce government devices and increase the number of remote staff who have secure access to VA applications and software resources." All of this begs another question: Is BYOD good for everyone in the enterprise or just for certain groups of employees? When the cost, mission and risk factors are weighed, is BYOD sus- tainable across the enterprise or only for targeted groups? Kyle Keller, cloud business director at EMC Federal, said he believes the answer is a little of both. An agency might want a BYOD policy to include everyone, but there are barriers even if security is strong, he said. A major hurdle is protecting data under all circumstances. Agencies need strategies and mechanisms for keeping control of the data on its networks while still giving users ubiquitous access. And if an agency allows employees to down- load data to their own devices, it must have a way to delete that data remotely if an employee s device is lost or stolen. "That s the hard part," Keller said. "It s the classi cations and application rationalization that are needed and that the [Defense Department] and even some civilian customers are looking to embark on. Because of that I think there will be speci c use cases for BYOD that come to light rst, and those will enable agencies to better understand the tech- to complete a job," said Unangst, who is now director of enterprise mobile computing at Unisys Federal Sys- tems. "But we found that if they had the right mobile device in the right form factor, they were able to reduce that down to just three trips." The problem for agen- cies is that the mobile devices that are most applicable to their needs vary tremendously and change quickly, so it is hard for them to provide their employees with the latest devices, he added. In other words, agencies must decide whether being behind the curve on ef ciency gains is a fair trade- off for giving employees a small set of devices that can be easily managed. "That s the dilemma they re facing right now," Unangst said, "because employees, and particularly the mobile elite, are saying they don t want a device that makes them do things in a less ef - cient way." For many agencies, the issues go beyond providing access for their employees. They must also accommo- date contractors and others partners who need access to government data and services and who increasingly rely on mobile devices for those activities. McCrae said NOAA needs to enable its employees to collaborate within the agency and has to do the same for its many outside partners, such as univer- sity research labs, "and BYOD could certainly help with that." However, he added that of cials would have to make sure that the BYOD environment supported the applications and virtual work space some of the employees and partners would need to access. Protecting agency data Fortunately, mobile technology is maturing at a fast rate and so are the options for using the devices, said Don- ald Kachman, director of mobile and IF ALLOWING EMPLOYEES TO USE THEIR OWN SMART PHONES AND TABLET PCs AT WORK DOESN'T BENEFIT THE AGENCY, WHY GO THROUGH THE PAIN OF DEVELOPING AND SECURING SUCH AN ENVIRONMENT? AP IMAGES
November 30, 2012