Article Written by David Abbou, Nubo Software
The threat posed by mobile data security breaches is a top
priority for most organizations, but it holds more severe consequences for some
industries than others. At the top of that list, you'll find the defense
agencies and military infrastructure that are responsible for national
security. When it comes to national defense, any security slip-up or exploited
gap can jeopardize the safety of both military staff and the citizens they are
trying to protect - and even end in casualties.
Cybersecurity attacks have been a part of geopolitical
warfare for decades, but as these threats have extended to mobile devices, they
have overwhelmed the security capabilities of commercial technologies.
Therefore, they pose unique challenges for military communications as well as command
and control (C2) operations.
Today's defense personnel must have the ability to
collaborate with their colleagues and share highly sensitive, often mission-critical
intel from wherever they are, be it in the field or in the control room.
Allowing such sensitive data to be accessed on mobile devices and applications
heightens both the risks and the challenges, and therefore it requires tailored
solutions for both enterprise hardware and software. The entire approach to military
mobility in the age of cyber warfare must
be different from the strategies we see in the private sector.
One Device That Can
Do it All
To give defense personnel secure and efficient mobile
abilities, their mobile devices need these specific qualities and functions:
mobile devices that can operate in harsh environments are the standard for
soldiers in the field. They allow soldiers to navigate terrain with a compact device
instead of the brick-sized radios and paper maps which have long been the norm.
Rugged mobile devices must also be built to prevent physical intrusion into
device memory if the phone were captured by enemies.
Customized OS: The
U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) still utilizes hardware from consumer
manufacturers such as Samsung, but these are modified rugged versions. The
Android OS is typically selected for its versatility and then hardened to allow
for additional layers of security.
PTT Voice &
Messaging: For starters, military devices must be able to provide
staff with reliable basic features like voice and messaging. A must-have
function required by many military and law enforcement organizations is Push-to-Talk
(PTT) communication, which allows one person to connect to single users or
active talk groups almost instantly with a single button press. It ensures that
time-sensitive information is communicated without delay. Instant messaging
must also be available with the same speed, reliability and multi-user chat
capability, as many situations render calling impractical.
VoIP Network: Defense
agencies are able to use the data from commercial carriers, but wireless
communications over public radio and telephone lines can be intercepted too
easily. Thus, defense establishments must use their own encrypted VoIP network.
Deployment & Security Challenges
In addition to standard apps for email, calendar and
contacts, specialized apps must be provided to various military, law enforcement
and even rescue operations staff to help them fulfill mission objectives. These
include mapping apps to navigate the battlefield according to plan, as well as
command and control programs.
Securing the apps and data on these devices is of paramount
importance. If data is breached or intercepted while in transit, the enemy
could discover the location of field personnel and track their movements,
compromising the battle and inflicting casualties. This is the greatest risk as
far as classified mobility is concerned.
A more resilient OS still cannot prevent cached history from leaving a digital footprint on
the device. And with governments engaging in cyber warfare and potentially
catastrophic cyber terrorism, even the most resilient device security and
encryption available can be cracked. In an environment where the stakes could
not be higher, a unique approach to app deployment is necessary.
Solution: Virtualized Mobile Apps
Virtual mobile infrastructure (VMI) may be a relatively
recent trend in the private sector, but defense agencies have considered it superior
approach to security for quite a while, and the reason why is pretty clear: Zero
data on devices.
VMI mobile apps running in a data center are essentially
deployed onto devices as a display using a thin client app. The user works with
the apps the same way they would with a native mobile app stored on the device,
but they are kept behind the military's firewall where they are best secured.
Being able to manage and distribute apps from a secured data
center means there is no critical data that can be compromised on devices,
regardless of whether they are lost or stolen. The device leaves nothing for
hackers to retrieve, no matter how sophisticated their capabilities are. This removes
the need to allocate significant IT resources towards managing device security.
This elevated security also removes the need for defense
agencies to invest in making every conceivable app military-grade. In addition
to custom apps created in-house, they can now provide access to popular off-the-shelf
apps that are already effective for inter-staff communication.
Look for VMI to become the standard for secure mobility in
the defense arena going forward.
About the Author
David Abbou is the head of
marketing communications at Nubo Software.
Nubo Software is a company that
is defining the new virtual mobile work experience for enterprise