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The Complete Zero-Trust Mobile Security Manual for CISOs

The surge of remote and hybrid work has skyrocketed mobile device usage in businesses. While offering flexibility, they create a vast attack surface for cyber threats. Blending personal and work devices further exposes sensitive data to risks like unsecured networks, malware, and lost/stolen devices. Enforcing consistent security across various locations and devices adds another layer of complexity.

 

Zero Trust: The New Security Paradigm

Traditional perimeter-based security, with its “trust but verify” approach, is struggling in today’s interconnected world. Zero trust represents a fundamental shift in enterprise security where no user, device, or network component is inherently trusted. It assumes a breach is imminent or ongoing, emphasizing continuous verification and strict access controls, both inside and outside the network.

 

Implementing Zero-Trust Mobile Security

Zero trust has to be proactive, especially with the rise of remote workers and third-party contractors. Here are key best practices:

1. Continuous Authentication & Authorization: Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and adaptive access controls to verify user identity, device health, and context before granting access.

2. Network Segmentation & Micro-Perimeters: Divide the network into isolated segments for different users/devices, limiting lateral movement and minimizing breach impact.

3. Data-Centric Security: Encrypt data at rest and in transit. Use data loss prevention (DLP) to control sensitive data movement.

4. Behavioral Analytics & Monitoring: Detect anomalies and suspicious activities on devices. Track device behavior, network traffic, and user interactions for real-time threat detection.

5. Endpoint Protection & Mobile Device Management (MDM): Implement robust endpoint protection and leverage MDM for granular device control, remote wipe capabilities, and policy enforcement.

6. Employee Training & Awareness: Educate employees on security best practices, recognizing phishing attempts, and reporting suspicious activities. Foster a culture of security awareness.

7. Regular Audits & Assessments: Identify vulnerabilities, evaluate security controls, and ensure compliance with industry standards.

8. Integration & Automation: Integrate various security tools for a unified ecosystem. Automate processes to streamline security, enhance response times, and reduce human error.

9. Adaptability & Evolution: Continuously improve and adapt to evolving threats. Stay informed about emerging technologies, threats, and best practices to refine your mobile security strategy.

 

Challenges & Considerations

Despite its promise of increased protection and resilience against cyber threats, establishing a zero-trust mobile environment presents numerous challenges and considerations that organizations must carefully navigate, such as:

1. Balancing User Experience vs. Security: Finding the right balance between stringent security and a seamless user experience is crucial.

2. Device Diversity & BYOD Policies: Managing diverse devices, operating systems, and security configurations under BYOD policies adds complexity.

3. Integration & Interoperability: Integrating various security solutions and ensuring seamless interoperability requires meticulous planning and execution.

4. Third-Party Integration & Supply Chain Security: Extending zero trust to third-party integrations and supply chain partners presents additional considerations.

5. Regulatory Compliance & Legal Implications: Adhering to regulations while implementing zero trust is crucial.

6. Cultural Shift & User Awareness: Educating employees about the “never trust, always verify” principle is essential. Resistance to change and lack of awareness can impede adoption.

7. Resource & Expertise Constraints: Deploying and managing zero-trust architectures requires specialized skills and resources.

8. Complexity in Monitoring & Analysis: Managing and analyzing vast amounts of data generated by mobile devices can be complex.

9. Scalability & Adaptability: Ensuring scalability and adaptability to accommodate organizational growth and evolving threat landscapes is vital.

 

Addressing the Challenges: A Different Approach

Implementing and managing zero-trust environments can be daunting. While most solutions focus on securing the devices, this exposes data when it moves outside the secure network to reside on the mobile devices accessing it.

To address the vulnerability of diverse endpoints and the inherent risk of exposing sensitive data outside the secure corporate network, Symmetrium created an innovative zero-trust data mobile access solution. This unique approach transforms all mobile devices into secure virtual extensions of an organization’s network, prioritizing compliance, security, and IT protocols.

Symmetrium achieves this by creating virtual mobile devices (VMDs) that remain within the organization’s network perimeter. Through peer-to-peer encrypted streaming, authorized users can securely access and view data without the need to transfer it to external devices. This ‘no data at rest’ methodology significantly reduces the risk of data breaches.

Offering a seamless transition to a secure zero-trust environment, Symmetrium’s solution eliminates the need for a complete technology overhaul. By adopting VMDs, organizations can uphold existing enterprise security protocols while effectively safeguarding data and resources. In a dynamic landscape where data and employees extend beyond traditional perimeters, Symmetrium’s VMDs embody the essence of a zero-trust approach — ensuring robust data security without compromising productivity.

Are you ready to reevaluate your approach to zero-trust mobile security? Experience the power of Symmetrium firsthand by scheduling a demo today.

2023: The Year of Mobile Data Protection

The full-time return to office work has been declared dead. While this most likely has pleased most employees, Chief Security Officers (CSOs) and their teams will be less than ecstatic. They know remote working increases the possibility of security attacks and data breaches. And with the growing use of mobile expanding their attack surface, they are finding out firsthand that current solutions, relying on VPNs and user IDs, for example, are simply not enough. 

The resulting data breaches and attacks can be costly and damaging to organizations, exposing them to reputational damage and significant fines. Over 2023, the healthcare and financial sectors both paid a heavy price for data breaches. In fact, according to research by Proxyrack, the average cost of a data breach incident in healthcare is estimated at $9.23 million — the highest of any industry surveyed. The financial sector comes in second, with an average cost of $5.27 million.

Industries subject to rigorous regulation, like healthcare and finance, are encountering growing challenges with staff’s usage of applications, such as WhatsApp and Slack, for file sharing. This practice can violate stringent regulations pertaining to data confidentiality and security.

To tackle these growing concerns surrounding mobile data security, Symmetrium focused on upgrading its offering during 2023 to directly address and provide a solution to the security flaws CSOs were encountering.

Here are the standout highlights:

An Instant Messaging (IM) and SMS Data Protection Solution

With messaging apps now commonplace in the work environment, Symmetrium released its  unique IM and SMS suite. This innovation empowers organizations to promptly counter these security risks by implementing Virtual Mobile Devices (VDMs) within their network. 

Symmetrium’s VDMs offer users dedicated work mobile numbers, serving as unique identifiers, all without requiring separate physical devices. This shields employees against SMS phishing (Smishing), actively preventing fraudulent activities and malicious links by meticulously scanning every message. It seamlessly integrates with existing email security tools to ensure secure message delivery to end users. 

The solution also addresses compliance concerns by efficiently capturing and storing all work-related messages, establishing an agentless IM and SMS archive. This capability enables organizations to consistently meet the stringent regulatory data requirements imposed on their specific sector.

Creating a True Zero-Trust Solution to Reduce Attack-Surface Area

To limit the amount of touch points to public networks, Symmetrium delivered a cutting-edge zero-trust data mobile access solution. This facilitates productive collaboration while significantly reducing the attack-surface area and the chances of data breaches. 

To maintain a secure and private zero-trust environment for data, while minimizing external touch points to the internet, Symmetrium uses its groundbreaking VMDs. These reside within the organization’s network, so when accessed by employees remotely via their mobile phones or laptops, they serve as extensions of the company’s comprehensive security and compliance policies. 

By leveraging end-to-end encrypted streaming, these VMDs ensure a seamless, completely native mobile experience with effortless deployment and management. Sensitive data is accessed virtually and therefore at no time sits on the user’s actual device. The result is a true zero-trust environment, a radically reduced attack surface to ensure that data remains secure and is never put at risk.

Upgrading to Support 5G Networks to Deliver Security and Speed

During 2023, Symmetirum upgraded its streaming technology to support 5G networks. This uses AWS Wavelength Zones to enable organizations deploying Symmetrium’s high-performance Virtual Mobile Devices to benefit from a near real-time experience.

AWS Wavelength integrates the high bandwidth and ultralow latency capabilities of 5G networks with AWS compute and storage services. So, rather than using the public internet, AWS Wavelength Zones enable users to have a telco-grade connection between the cloud and the telco, and between the device and the telco. This shortens the overall time point-to-point, providing a super fast native experience for Symmetrium’s users.

Revolutionizing Zero-Trust Capabilities for Mobile Devices

In the quest for zero trust, Symmetrium’s provision of Virtual Mobile Devices functioning within the organization’s network perimeter, coupled with P2P encrypted streaming, guarantees data security without storing data on external devices. This innovative approach negates the necessity for extensive technological overhauls, enabling seamless integration of Symmetrium into existing infrastructure.

In 2024 Symmetrium will continue to empower organizations to confidently confront zero-trust challenges, facilitating a secure digital transformation. Organizations implementing Symmetrium will shield their data from both established and emerging security threats, including spyware, thereby enabling them to maintain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic landscape.

Safeguard your workspaces by establishing a genuine zero-trust environment for your mobile devices. Schedule a demo with Symmetrium today.

Driving Down Total Cost of Ownership: The Ultimate Cost-Effective Mobile Data Protection Strategy

In the rapidly evolving landscape of enterprise mobility, ensuring robust security while managing mobile devices and the associated costs has become a crucial challenge. 

Organizations, who build their strategy around company-issued devices, using solutions such as COPE (corporate-owned, personally enabled) have become all too aware that the concept of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) extends beyond the initial purchase price of a mobile device. It encompasses an array of expenses incurred throughout the device’s lifecycle – from acquisition and deployment to maintenance, support, and eventual decommissioning. 

While Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solves this initial outlay on the actual device, the management of multiple types of hardware and operating systems brings similar challenges and support costs to organizations who embrace this model. 

Navigating the TCO of Mobile Data Protection

To optimally understand TCO these four key areas need to be understood in terms of their impact on the overall annual cost of implementing an effective MDM solution. 

  • Device Cost

COPE: Solutions where the company pays for the device are obviously the most expensive. They face the upfront purchase cost, eventual replacement costs and all associated management and support costs over the lifetime of devices.

BYOD: While employees use their own devices, the organization may still need to provide subsidies, allowances, or reimbursements for device purchases or upgrades. This cost can vary depending on the organization’s BYOD policy.

PROBLEM: While COPE has a transparent upfront cost, BYOD cost can vary depending on the organization’s policy regarding stipends and reimbursements to employees who purchase their own device. Nonetheless, security professionals need to be aware that the initial costs of purchasing devices should not be the core driver of the decision-making process as support and maintenance costs will tend to have a greater impact on annual TCO. 

 

  • Support and Maintenance Costs

COPE: As these devices are owned by the organization, the onus of their maintenance and monitoring squarely rests on the company’s shoulders. This places the full costs of support on the company. 

BYOD: While organizations can save money implementing a BYOD, they will still need to onboard users, provide technical support and software updates to ensure maintained compatibility with the organization’s IT infrastructure. These support costs can easily equal those involved in the deployment of a COPE strategy.

PROBLEM: Device costs can be seen as the visible portion of an ice-berg (larger for COPE and smaller for BYOD), with the “below the waterline” non-visible support and maintenance costs generally the most expensive portion of MDM policies. 

 

  • Security Measures

COPE: Implementing robust security measures, such as encryption and antivirus software, involves licensing fees and ongoing maintenance costs.

BYOD: As with COPE licensing fees and ongoing costs will be a feature, and need to be factored in for BYOD solutions.

PROBLEM: Implementing a BYOD solution to try and eliminate the initial outlay on devices has one major flaw. When it comes to security, 100% BYOD will never be as safe as 100% Company issued.

 

Finding the Right Balance Between Cost and Security

When an organization needs the most secure option they tend to invest in COPE solutions, even though this is the most expensive due to the investment in devices. BYOD is a cheaper, more flexible option, but will incur equally expensive support and maintenance costs, while compromising on security. 

Organizations, however, that implement a BYOD solution can utilize Symmetrium’s minimum resources approach to radically reduce TCO while optimizing security. Symmetrium achieves this by creating virtual devices that reside within the organization’s own IT environment. When these are remotely accessed they are protected by end-to-end encrypted streaming and therefore act as extensions of all organizational security and compliance policies. As each mobile device acts as an on-prem laptop when connecting with data via Symmetrium, the data is protected from any risks associated with a BYOD device being used to access it. 

The result is organizations can limit the TCO involved in managing BYOD mobile devices while being confident their data remains secure and protected, similar to COPE solutions, regardless of the device being used to access it. 

The cost of maintaining security is minimized because using Symmetrium means data never comes to rest on devices outside of the organization’s IT environment. And because Symmetrium extends the security and compliance protocols of the organization’s network to any device used to access the network via Symmetrium it eliminates the need for encryption and antivirus software.

As Symmetrium is device agnostic, it can operate in both BYOD and COPE environments. The cost of support in these environments can be significantly reduced as troubleshooting and software updates are not as critical as the organizational network is accessed through Symmetrium and compatibility issues are practically eliminated.  

 

The Most Effective Way to Reduce TCO and Eliminate Security Flaws

Symmetrium offers the lowest TCO when it comes to mobile data protection thanks to the vastly reduced impact of support and management costs. It achieves this while delivering the security level associated with company-issued devices with the flexibility and ease of management of BYOD.

This allows for the cost effective and efficient management of multiple devices, regardless of their brand or operating systems, with minimal resource allocation, thanks to a centralized management console. When looking to balance the optimum in mobile security with the minimum TCO, Symmetrium’s VMD provides the perfect solution. 

Discover how easy it is to lower your mobile data protection TCO while optimizing your network security by booking a demo with Symmetrium here.

 

The Flaws and Costs of Mobile Security Policies and How to Instantly Fix Them

The era of hybrid and remote work environments has given Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) many sleepless nights as they struggle to ensure optimal protection for their corporate networks. With the frequency of cyber attacks targeting mobile devices and remote workers continuing to rise, implementing a comprehensive mobile security policy is essential to safeguard an organization’s work environment.

While there has been a rapid increase in the popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies over the past number of years, its inherent security flaws has seen organizations embrace other models in search of a better solution, such as

Choose Your Own Device (CYOD), Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) and Corporate-Owned, Business-Only (COBO). The truth is, however, that all of these policies leave networks and their data vulnerable.

However, there is another option available. Organizations can quickly and cost effectively implement a zero-trust data mobile access solution that enables productive collaboration while dramatically minimizing the risk of data breaches. This is achieved by turning any mobile device, managed or unmanaged, into a virtual extension of an organization’s network, with all its compliance, security, and IT.

So, let’s first look at the pros, cons and costs associated with traditional solutions, and then outline how organizations can implement a truly zero-trust mobile security environment that will immediately optimize data security using a minimum resources approach.

 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

BYOD policies allow employees to use their personal mobiles, reducing the financial burden on companies, as employees bear the cost of purchasing and maintaining their devices. It promotes flexibility and mobility, enabling employees to work from anywhere, at any time. However, implementing BYOD requires proper security measures to protect company data, ensuring strong device management and encryption protocols are in place.

Pros:

  • Enables employees to work from anywhere, at any time.
  • Reduces need to purchase and maintain devices for employees.

Cons:

  • Increases security concerns, as personal devices may be vulnerable to data breaches or malware attacks.
  • Different devices and operating systems may pose challenges in terms of integration with existing IT infrastructure.
  • IT departments may face additional workload in terms of software updates, and troubleshooting.
  • Balancing employee privacy with the company’s need to protect sensitive data can be challenging.
  • Companies may have limited control over employee devices, making it harder to enforce policies and ensure compliance.

Costs:

  • Investment in security solutions, such as mobile device management (MDM) software, encryption, and remote wiping capabilities.
  • Additional resources may be required to provide technical support and address device-related issues.
  • Expenses may arise from ensuring compatibility with existing systems and software.
  • Companies must consider the costs associated with meeting legal and regulatory requirements related to data protection and privacy.

 

Choose Your Own Device (CYOD)

CYOD allows employees to select their devices from a list of approved options from their employer.

Pros:

  • Ensures that only approved and secure devices are used for work, reducing the risk of data breaches and malware attacks.
  • Limiting selection of devices ensures better compatibility and seamless integration with existing IT infrastructure and software.
  • Technical support is more streamlined and efficient.

Cons:

  • Companies need to invest in purchasing and maintaining a range of devices.
  • Introducing new devices may require additional training and support.
  • Upgrades and replacements will increase costs over time.

Costs:

  • Purchasing and maintaining devices.
  • Allocating resources for training employees on the selected devices.
  • Expenses may arise from ensuring compatibility with existing systems and software.
  • Device upgrades and replacements.

 

Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE)

COPE provides employees with company-owned devices that can also be used for personal purposes.

Pros:

  • Greater control over device security measures, ensuring compliance with data protection and privacy regulations.
    Better compatibility and integration with existing IT infrastructure and software.
    Software updates, and technical support is more streamlined and efficient.

Cons:

  • Reduced device choice for employees, limiting personal preferences and flexibility.
  • Purchasing and maintaining company-owned devices.
  • Employees reservations about using company-owned devices for personal use.
  • Training and learning curve.
  • Employees may prefer using their personal devices.

Costs:

  • Purchasing devices.
  • Device management and technical support.
  • Training and onboarding.
  • Upgrades and replacements.

 

Corporate-Owned, Business-Only (COBO)

Corporate-Owned, Business-Only (COBO) is where companies provide employees with company-owned devices strictly for work-related purposes.

Pros:

  • Can enforce strict policies to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Consistent hardware and software configurations across devices.
  • Minimizes the risk of data breaches, malware infections, and unauthorized access.
  • IT departments have centralized control over devices, making troubleshooting, and support more efficient.
  • Optimized for work-related tasks, promoting focused and efficient work.

Cons:

  • Concerns about privacy and potential monitoring by the employer.
  • Employees heavily rely on IT support for device-related issues, increasing workload for the IT department.
  • Employees may resist using COBO devices, preferring to use their personal devices instead.

Costs:

  • Device procurement.
  • Device management.
  • Training and onboarding.
  • Upgrades and replacements.

 

How to Solve these Security Flaws and Eliminate Associated Costs

The traditional solutions to mobile device access, detailed above, are far from ideal. Each has its flaws and ultimately leaves organizations vulnerable to security breaches to greater or lesser degrees. Each one also has associated costs and requires oversight. Organizations today, however, can quickly benefit from a solution created by Symmetrium that not only offers vastly superior levels of security, but also requires minimum resources.

The zero-trust environment needed to keep data private and protected is achieved by deploying Symmetium’s virtual mobile device (VMD) solution. When these virtual devices, which reside within the organization’s network, are remotely accessed by employees using their mobile phone or laptop, they act as extensions of all organizational security and compliance policies using end-to-end encrypted streaming. The result is a completely native mobile experience with seamless deployment and management.

Corporate data is accessed virtually and therefore at no time sits on the user’s actual device. The result is that data remains secure and is never put at risk.

Maintaining Full Control Over Mobile Data Access

Organizations using Symmetrium are able to maintain full control over the data accessed by employees through their mobile devices, safeguarding it from potential risks. This allows for the efficient management of multiple devices, regardless of their brand or operating systems, with minimal resource allocation, thanks to a centralized management console.

The integration seamlessly aligns with existing security and GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) protocols through a unified application. As a result, organizations gain confidence in the security and protection of their data, irrespective of the device used for access.

Symmetrium instantly deliveries the following benefits:

  • Seamlessly maintains and enforces strict network policies to protect sensitive data and ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Works with all hardware and software configurations across devices.
  • Eliminates the risk of data breaches, malware infections, and unauthorized access.
  • Requires minimal resource allocation.
  • IT departments have centralized management via console.
  • Allows employees to use their own devices without compromising their experience and privacy.
  • Highly cost effective as it requires no investment in purchasing, maintaining or upgrading devices.

By using Symmetrium’s streamlined approach organizations can confidently ensure data remains secure at all times, reinforcing data governance and mitigating potential vulnerabilities.

Discover how easy it is to optimize your network security by booking a demo with Symmetrium here.

2023’s Potential Big Compliance Flaw — Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) Policies

Trying to safely manage a BYOD policy is a minefield of risks, which is why organizations are turning to an innovative zero trust mobile access solution to instantly resolve security flaws.

Almost 80% of US-based companies have used BYOD since 2018, but a growing number are discovering BYOD can often stand for “Bring Your Own Disaster.” This is because BYOD essentially extends the company’s network out into the world and exposes firms to risks related to client, employee, or corporate data. 

For most organizations the decision to implement a BYOD policy has lots to do with productivity and flexibility, but little to do with security. So while it can help organizations to be more efficient and effective, the security implications can quickly outweigh the benefits. Securing BYOD is a headache, and far more complicated and problematic than corporate-owned endpoints. This is why even the biggest corporations are at risk. 

 

Significant BYOD Data Breaches 

Global consulting firm, Deloitte suffered a substantial data breach in 2017, which was attributed to an administrator’s account being accessed after using an unprotected device. This impacted their email system and exposed highly sensitive client data, including that of the US Department of Defence. 

LastPass, an award-winning password manager, which saves passwords and gives secure access from every computer and mobile device, had its systems breached in 2022 after a hacker stole source code and technical information from a home computer belonging to one of the company’s DevOps engineers.

The growing culture of BYOD devices in healthcare is now also one of the biggest security threats facing the sector, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

 

Key BYOD Vulnerabilities 

 The underlying concerns of security professionals regarding BYOD deployment are data leakage (62%), users downloading unsafe apps or content (54%), and lost or stolen devices being compromised (53%), according to Bitglass’s 2021 BYOD Security Report

While many businesses have specific BYOD policies in place to guard against security vulnerabilities, enforcing them is problematic. This leaves organizations and their data at risk due to: 

Poorly secured Wi-Fi networks: When employees are working remotely using their own devices to connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks they can expose sensitive data to potential security threats. 

Not updating software: Personal devices may not contain the most up-to-date software and security patches. This can leave them vulnerable to hacking attempts. 

Unauthorized apps: Unknowingly downloading and using unauthorized applications on personal devices provides a significant threat of malware or spyware compromising company data. 

Sharing unsecured data: Sharing data using unauthorized messaging apps and personal email accounts can expose sensitive data to security risks. 

Data at rest: When an employee accesses confidential content in a BYOD environment, the data leaves the corporate network and rests on their device, even using the most advanced data protection solutions and authentication protocols.

 

The Solution for All BYOD Threats

Symmetrium’s zero trust mobile access solution has been designed to help organizations keep data protected in a BOYD environment. It works by the creation of virtual devices that reside within the organization’s own IT environment. 

When remotely accessed these virtual devices act as extensions of all organizational security and compliance policies using end-to-end encrypted streaming. The result is a completely native mobile experience with seamless deployment and management.

Corporate data is always accessed virtually using Symmetrium via the organizational network, and therefore at no time sits on the user’s actual device. The result is that data remains secure and is never put at risk.

With each mobile device acting as an on-prem laptop, it allows for full control over the data employees access and shields this data from any risks associated with the BYOD device being used to access it. 

This allows for minimum-resources BYOD mobile management via a central management console for all devices, OS and brands. All is integrated smoothly into existing security and GRC data access protocols through one single app. The result is organizations can finally be confident their data remains secure and protected at all times regardless of the device being used to access it. 

Isn’t it time you reconsidered your approach to BYOD? Book a demo with Symmetrium here.

 

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