The Mobile Blind Spot

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Why integrated security is increasingly necessary in an era of advanced mobile threats.

Welcome to the era of the mobile blind spot. Chandra Sekar, director of Product Marketing at Citrix, references the term to explain the complexity of enterprise security in the face of mobility.

The traditional enterprise security approach was to rely on point solutions, such as threat analysis, anti-virus, intrusion prevention, and firewalls. But it’s not that simple anymore.

  • Mobility introduces entirely new threat vectors as a result of how mobile devices connect and consume information.
  • It also intensifies the complexity of correlating and analyzing threat information collected by the very point solutions that traditionally protect the enterprise.

“The mobile blind spot is one of the biggest challenges for today’s security professionals,” says Sekar. “They will only be able to unlock mobile productivity securely once they can find the real threats and take action on them quickly.”

By integrating security solutions across the network, professionals can do just that. The network becomes a central point of visibility and action to support mobile security objectives.

Mobility-Aware Security
Cisco recently extended the Cisco Security Ecosystem, a partner-based, information-sharing network, which utilizes the Cisco Platform Exchange Grid (pxGrid) as a framework for dispensing security intelligence. Designed to address a fragmented, silo-prone network security landscape, the Ecosystem promotes “strength through integration” with:

  • Greater network visibility
  • An identity and device-aware network
  • Consistent mitigation policies for combating network threats

With network elements that use a common language to share information, security professionals can leverage consistent, contextual information to gain the visibility necessary for effective security policies and enforcement.

Dave Frampton, vice president and general manager of the Cisco Secure Access and Mobility Product Group, highlights the value of “actionable security that comes from fine-grained, scalable, and manageable policy controls.” By removing the complexity of going to multiple-point solutions to see and understand what’s happening, the Ecosystem creates the potential for true mobility-aware security.

The Partner Perspective
Lancope, a leading provider of network visibility and security intelligence, is one of the first companies to join the extended Ecosystem. Lancope’s StealthWatch solution already uses the network as a virtual sensor grid to gain threat visibility. David Cocchiara, chief operating officer and financial officer at Lancope, believes that pxGrid provides:

  • Security technologies
  • Threat reputation
  • A vulnerability assessment
  • A common platform to share context

“Mobility intensifies threat vectors, and it is invaluable for Lancope to have a common language to share relevant information,” says Cocchiara. “This moves the network beyond being just a source of visibility and data to being a control plane for taking action against the sophisticated threats facing our customers today.”

Integration = Mobile Security Innovation
With integration throughout a network, security leaders across industries can contemplate mobile security innovation in ways that weren’t possible before. Bart Lauwers, a 25-year security veteran, calls it the rise of the ”invisible policeman.”

“Device security posture is a game changer, and it was never possible previously because component systems were never integrated,” says Lauwers. “As we mature to deeper integration with identity systems, the network will be policing behind the scenes instead of IT policing visibly to users.”

Having an “invisible policeman” that controls access using identity, role, and location will help businesses address some of today’s key challenges such as compliance and IP protection.

James Plouffe, enterprise architect at MobileIron, gives a hypothetical example of an auto-manufacturing employee that frequents the company’s technical center, the hub of sensitive designs and development. With integration, the network could tell MobileIron’s device, application, and content management solution to disable the camera function when the device enters the technical center.

“Instead of security professionals reacting after the fact or hoping for the best, the network takes over, identifying the potential threats and communicating action proactively to other solutions,” says Plouffe.

Greater Control, Greater Freedom
When it comes to security, IT has historically been known as the department of no. For security professionals, the most common recourse was to block and restrict. But integration through a network provides new options.

Most importantly, in Lauwers’ view, is the ability, “to realize the advantages of greater and faster control existing alongside greater freedom.”

That’s precisely why Frampton advocates for integration through the network. “With the Ecosystem and pxGrid, security professionals can now move the needle on mobility from locking it down to opening it up,” he says. “The result is secure productivity for business users that leverages the power of applications, data, and collaboration.”

More Information: To better understand the attitudes and experiences of mobile users in the enterprise with special attention to security, Cisco conducted a survey of more than 4600 end users across 10 countries. Click here to check out the results.