Government agencies at all levels have worked the past several years to make processes and procedures more mobile. But, according to a recent Governing report, many continue to run into the same roadblock – a tight budget.
Organizations at the local, state and federal levels have tightened their belts like never before lately. And while mobile devices would present numerous benefits, many government chief information officers are finding it difficult to justify the investment necessary – devices, apps, services – for mobility. And that's not to mention the concerns of data security.
However, according to the Governing report, it seems as though government agencies may have found the answer to their issues from an unlikely source.
“It does make some fiscal sense for the state not to duplicate devices that people might already have – whether it’s mobile phones, laptops, tablets or other things,” California CIO Carlos Ramos told the news provider.
He was talking, of course, about mobility consumerization, where employees bring their personally owned smartphones, tablets and other technology from home to connect to the enterprise network. It can also refer to companies that supply employees with technology that is considered consumer-based.
Organizations everywhere have had a love/hate relationship with consumerization since it became popular in the mobility space. For all its cost benefits, the trend also presents data protection concerns as the IT department has little to no control over the devices.
It appears, though, as if government organizations are prepared to take the plunge. At the beginning of October, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began a new program to support Apple devices. Officials handed out 100,000 iPhones and iPads and allowed the smartphones and tablets to access the department's network.
Given the sensitive nature of the health information handled by VA employees, department CIO Roger Baker said that several steps were taken to prepare data security measures for the new consumer devices.
"We're establishing what it is we need to have the user sign, relative to their personally-owned device, that will ensure, for example, that I have the right to wipe any VA information off of it at my discretion … and ensure that I have right to access the device to review it as needed," Baker said in a recent interview with HealthInfoSecurity.
According to the Governing report, other government agencies are also getting creative in terms of mobile data security.
Desktop virtualization has proven to be a favorite among various organizations, the report noted. With the technology, the IT departments prevent personally owned devices – whether they are smartphones, tablets or laptops – from actually storing any information without hindering their access to the data.
That's because everything is delivered from and run in the controlled data center, according to the report.
“This lets us change the way we view devices — both personal devices and the devices on your desk,” Utah CIO Steve Fletcher told Governing. “Employees can use any device they want, because we’re not storing anything on the device. It’s all running in a state-controlled data center with our security around it.”
Consumerization has become vastly widespread during the past several years. Recently, IBM, among the largest and most recognizable companies in the world, announced that it would supply and support employees' use of iPhones.
According to a Computerworld report, the company will begin with an initial deployment of 100,000 devices by the end of the year. Throughout 2012, the report stated, IBM will add another 100,000 devices.
Consumerization News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro