Secure Mobile Workforce: Why Traditional Network Security Is Not Enough to Protect Mobile Workforces (And What to Do Instead)

Traditionally, organizations stored all their applications and data in a single, on-site data center. This allowed them to have complete visibility into and control over their network and who was accessing and using it, so it was fairly easy for them to ensure network security.

However, now that most organizations have moved to the cloud where their applications and data are frequently being stored and managed on third-party infrastructure—scattered across multiple service providers and around the world—many organizations no longer know where all their applications and data are, nor have any visibility into nor control over their network.

On top of this, many organizations are also grappling with the fact that:

  • Employees are now working everywhere and on multiple devices (using a combination of their organization’s and their own personal devices such as smart phones, iPads, laptops and others) to get their jobs done. And since these devices increasingly have confidential business and customer data on them, mobile devices have become the new network perimeter.
  • Mobile security threats have become a lot more complicated over the past several years.
  • Most security incidents today originate from either a mobile device or a third party.
  • Data privacy laws and regulations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the New York SHIELD Act and many others require organizations to adhere to strict compliance and reporting standards.

All of this makes it difficult for organizations to protect and secure their network and mobile workers.

Consequently, the traditional approach to security no longer works.


What Your Organization Should Do Instead

To overcome these challenges, below are six steps your organization can take to better protect and secure your network and mobile workforce.

  1. Identify and Understand the Risks in Your Environment — Before your organization can create and implement an effective security program, it’s important to know and understand: a) What the risks are in your environment (via doing a risk assessment, gap analysis and other assessments); and b) Where those risks are. Otherwise, without this information, you won’t know if you’re implementing the right security controls.
  2. Create a Security Roadmap — Identify where your organization is today and where you want to be, and then map out what you need to do to get there. As part of these efforts, carefully assess important areas such as mobile device security, data and content security, application security, and identity and access management security. Implement best security practices and leading industry standards like NIST CSF, ISO 27001, CIS Top 20 controls, etc.
  3. Set Up Proper Governance for What People Can Do — Define what type of access and use people can or can’t have from a mobile device. For example: Can they access and use all of your organization’s applications and data? Or only some or part of them? Or only just view them? Also, what types of things can they do from your organization’s mobile devices verses their own personal mobile devices? Then, create a formal mobile use and security policy for your organization.
  4. Update Your Organization’s Technology Infrastructure — Many new technologies are available on the market which can help your organization gain more visibility into and control over your network and mobile users; ensure consistent security delivery across your entire network; and better identify and manage potential security threats. 
  5. Create and Implement a Robust Third-Party Security Management Program — Identify all the third-party providers your organization works with and what type of applications and data they have (ranging from highly confidential and sensitive data to unimportant data). Next, determine how much or how little risk each party potentially poses to your organization; evaluate those third parties; develop a third-party security management policy and program for your organization; and make sure all the third-party providers your organization works with are aware of them.
  6. Educate Your Employees on the Current Security Threat Landscape — When it comes to protecting and securing your network and mobile users, your organization’s employees are your very best line of defense. So, take time to educate and train them on how to identify and prevent potential security threats.

For more information on how to secure your mobile workforce visit