Nov 18 2013

Governments Move to the Cloud for Mobile Security

Mobile device management services safeguard data and devices.

With some 10,000 devices to manage across a large and diverse workforce, the IT team that manages mobile devices for the state of Michigan opted for a cloud-based solution.

John McQuaid, IT manager, and Linda Baker, smart device support team manager, say Fiberlink Maas360 offers them an affordable product that lets them quickly deploy mobile devices without having to set up equipment onsite at headquarters in Lansing. Most of the state’s smartphones and tablets are iOS-based, and the department also supports Android and Windows phones.

“There’s no way we could go out in the field and touch every one of those devices by hand,” Baker says, pointing out that the mobile group has only four full-time staffers and two students. “We can also push configuration options to devices remotely; for example, sending out a device’s Wi-Fi or email settings.”

McQuaid says MaaS360 also gives IT staff the ability to remote-wipe a device if it’s lost or stolen and to unlock it remotely if someone forgets his password. “In many ways, the MDM service is like any other security product in that it is an insurance policy” he says. “The main reason we did this was to keep our data secure.”


The percentage of IT managers who say they have experienced a breach or data loss in which a mobile device was a factor

SOURCE: “U.S. Mobile Security Survey, 2013” (IDC, April 2013)

Phil Hochmuth, program manager for security products at IDC, says the state of Michigan’s deployment of MaaS360 fits in well with the organization’s mobile focus. “Most organizations that deploy a cloud-based MDM system are ones that do mobility for a living,” he says. “For these organizations, mobility is essential to the operation and is a requirement for getting work done.”

Keeping Connected

Kevin Mattsen, system engineer for Pierce County, Wash., says the county opted for a cloud-based MDM service from AirWatch to manage more than 450 county-issued Apple iPads and iPhones.

The county has about 3,000 staffers across 24 separate departments with very different technology needs. Mattsen says the iPads especially have become a cost-efficient way for elected officials and upper managers to stay connected and more productive.

At the time of Pierce County’s iPad deployment in 2011, AirWatch was one of the only vendors with a software as a service offering, Mattsen says. “The county was able to greatly limit costs in the early pilot stages by only paying monthly charges for each device instead of purchasing an on-premises MDM system,” he says.

Overall, Mattsen says the AirWatch solution provides security, device management and app management for the county.

3 Tips for Mobile Security

Phil Hochmuth, security products program manager for IDC, offers IT managers these mobile security tips:

  1. Use what you’ve got. Think about the mobile extensions to existing products or the mobile option to traditional products, such as those from McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro.
  2. Prioritize different types of users for BYOD. Assess the bring-your-own-device requirements for certain kinds of tasks. For example, in government, it makes sense for knowledge workers to have BYOD privileges. In a school or college, most teachers and professors would require BYOD.
  3. Focus on the data. Ultimately, it’s the data that IT managers are concerned about. Take a data-centric approach to mobile security by, for example, installing data loss prevention tools.

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.