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Chocolate and Network Security: A Match Made in Heaven

I’ve just finished lunch and something is missing. It was a good lunch too: grilled cheese sandwich and lentil soup (a nod to the chilly, blustery Spring morning outside). I liked my lunch, but now I want a little”¦ I don’t know”¦ a little something. What I’d like, truth be told, is a little bit of chocolate. Maybe a small chunk of Ghirardelli’s mile, or whoa ““ how about a lovely Lindt Lindor truffle? Yes, that would be just the ticket, but alas”¦ there’s no chocolate in the house.

And what, you may ask, has this to do with Security?

Everything. I assure you. Everything.

Let’s say you’re a distributor of fine chocolates, candies, gourmet sauces and other foods for the discerning palette. Let’s say you’re business is expanding by leaps and bounds, and your IT infrastructure is increasingly at risk, as you get hit with various malware events. No one really thinks of the critical role that IT plays in under-girding the success of gourmet food, but as wholesale and retail provider, First Source, knew ““ without a sound and safe infrastructure, they were going to be in trouble. But not only did First Source need an updated security infrastructure to better protect against threats 24×7, they also needed this to happen while improving the speed and quality of its order processing.

As a chocolate craver, let me tell you, I’m so glad First Source put SonicWall Security’s mobile and network security solutions and gourmet food together.

Over a period of 18 months, First Source designed and deployed a company-wide SonicWall next-generation firewall solution “” including firewall appliances at each remote location “” to act as the gatekeepers for the First Source IT infrastructure.

And wouldn’t you know it – the SonicWall solution has not only boosted the company’s security, but having site-to-site SSL VPN access with load balancing and high-speed internet connections has allowed the company to increase efficiency and collaboration too (read what other benefits First Source experienced here >>)

In almost every industry, in almost every location a solid secure infrastructure under girds almost all aspects of our lives. Even my chocolate cravings”

The Future Looks Bright for Mobile Worker Productivity

Managing and securing mobile data is about to get a whole lot easier. Mobile platform providers, historically focused on the consumer, are now investing heavily in new OS features that will seamlessly integrate with mobile management and security solutions and allow businesses to more easily enable mobile access to more data and resources without compromising security.

Historically, IT departments protected corporate networks and data by only allowing trusted devices and users to connect to the network. IT could limit the threat of data loss and malware by controlling and managing PC and laptop and software images and configurations. In the new mobile era, IT has limited control or management over devices. Workers are often independently choosing their smart-phones and tablets as well as the apps and services they use to address business and personal needs.

So, with limited mobile device control and management, how can IT keep company data secure while enabling mobile worker productivity?

The leading mobile platform providers recognize the challenge businesses face and are adding new features to make it easier to secure and manage business apps and data on devices, whether corporate or personally owned. And they’re partnering with third party mobile management and security providers to help give IT control to secure and manage the mobile data workflow. Key mobile platform features enabling mobile for business include:

1. Managed separation of business and personal apps and data

Mobile OS’s are architected to allow data to be easily shared by apps. While this ease-of-use and transparent interaction and sharing between apps is beneficial for personal use, it can be problematic for businesses that want to protect data. For example, many social apps mine contact lists from other apps and invite contacts to join their service. With this, confidential customer contact information stored in a business app could unintentionally be “shared” to a personal social app, leaking customer contact information and potentially damaging a business’s reputation or violating regulatory rules. Another risk, if a rogue app is downloaded to a device, mobile malware or vulnerabilities may be present that can steal data or provide an entry point for a cyber-attack.

To address these issues, the new generation of mobile operating systems is adding features that, with third party mobile management tools, will help better secure business apps and data on mobile devices. IT, with mobile user permission, will be able to more easily deploy and manage trusted mobile apps for business and enforce security policy to protect company data, while personal apps and data will be isolated from business apps, preventing data leakage. To meet mobile user demands for personal app and data privacy, IT will be restricted to only manage business apps and data. With these new built-in OS features, today’s proprietary secure containers that isolate and secure business apps and data on mobile devices, will be less necessary, helping to reduce IT cost and complexity.

2. Managed apps

To further support mobile for business, mobile platform providers are making it easier for app developers to build “managed apps”, apps that can be configured and managed by mobile management tools. For these apps, IT will be able to use third party mobile management tools to configure app level policies that affect the actions an app may take. For example, a managed email app implemented with the new mobile management control protocol could be remotely configured to only allow email and attachments to be viewed from the email app, and disallow copy, cut and print functionality to keep business data secure and encrypted within the app and not allow sharing with other apps.

3. App level VPN

Businesses today often deploy VPNs to securely connect mobile and remote workers with company networks and resources, a necessity to encrypt data in-flight and protect from data theft. However, when a device is used for business and personal use, if the VPN is enabled, personal traffic also uses the corporate VPN which can impact network bandwidth and contaminate backend resources. Ideally, to preserve corporate network bandwidth, only business apps and data should use the corporate VPN.

To address this need, mobile OS, security and management technologies are evolving to allow per app VPN capabilities. With per app VPN, security and management technology may be configured with policies to initiate a VPN whenever a business app launches such that business traffic from the mobile device travels through the VPN while personal traffic does not.

So, with these new mobile management and security capabilities, what should businesses do to accelerate mobile adoption and productivity?

Get ready for the next wave of mobile technology. For information on the management and security solutions you need to help enable mobile workers productivity while protecting from threats, read our eBook, Secure Mobile Access.

Mobile Security Checklist to Minimize Risk

The number of mobile devices in the workplace is exploding and with this, a new frontier for cyber-attack is emerging that poses a significant risk to business. As the great philosopher and strategist SunTze wrote, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

Threat analysts are finding that malware isn’t just a problem for laptops any more. For example, reports indicate that the CloudAtlas campaign, a sophisticated advanced persistent threat that initially targeted windows machines, has made its way to mobile platforms including Android, Apple IOS and Blackberry systems. Our own SonicWall Security Threat Research Center uncovered the Android counterpart of the CloudAtlas campaign. This malware masquerades itself as an update for the popular messenger app Whatsapp, and in turn, spies on a victim’s device to obtain sensitive data,such as texts, contacts and calendar information, and passes it back to the attacker, creating a huge business risk.

Could you, or one of your employees unknowingly have a mobile device infected with malware harvesting your confidential business data?

Fundamentally, there are two key business risks that you need to protect from as workers go mobile. The first, is theft or loss of mobile data. The second, is mobile devices becoming conduits for malware attacks that affect corporate systems and data. So what are the mobile threats you need to be aware of to protect your business?

Here’s a checklist of threats you need to be prepared to tackle in the mobile worker era:

  1. Lost and stolen devicesNo surprise here. If a device is lost or stolen, and corporate data was stored on the device, there’s a risk of confidential data loss. An even bigger risk, is a lost or stolen device being used to gain access to corporate data and apps on the back end. Significantly more data could be impacted if an unauthorized user with a lost or stolen mobile device gains access to the data center. This is particularly problematic for businesses subject to regulatory compliance.
  2. Mobile malware and vulnerabilitiesAnother concern is rogue apps downloaded to devices containing information-stealing malware, such as the CloudAltas threat discussed above, or vulnerabilities with devices, OS design and 3rd party apps. These threats provide entree for attacks and can lead to data theft and downtime. Again, this is a risk for data on the device, but potentially an even bigger risk if the device becomes a conduit for malware to infect backend data systems and cause data loss or downtime.
  3. Data leakage through 3rd party appsCorporate data and apps co-mingling with personal data and apps on devices can also create risk and lead to corporate data leaking, either intentionally or unintentionally. For example, many social apps mine contact lists from other apps and invite contacts to join their service. With this, confidential customer contact information stored in a business app could unintentionally be “shared” to a personal social app, leaking customer contact information and potentially damaging a business’s reputation or violating regulatory rules.
  4. Insecure Wi-FiLastly, the riskof man-in-the middle attacks. Attackers can snoop data if traffic is sent over unencrypted networks such as public wifi. Data in-flight is likely the pulse of the business. It likely contains fresh, sensitive data, and may even contain data subject to legal or regulatory requirements for confidentiality. If that data is intercepted, it could be damaging to the business. Although the relative quantity of data lost or stolen in case of in-flight traffic interception is likely small, the potential for damage is still there. So, to protect in-flight data from interception, data should be encrypted.

Mobile Security Solution

So, now that we reviewed the top threats, how can you prepare to win the mobile security battle to come? To protect from these threats, the best defense is a good offense.

Secure container and encryption technologies such as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) can help isolate and secure business apps and data on mobile devices. This a great start, but company data and networks are still at risk if only on-device data protection is addressed. Security is an end-to-end mobile workflow challenge.

For comprehensive mobile security, in addition to EMM, deploy security and access control technologies in your IT infrastructure that authenticate users and interrogate devices, OSes, mobile apps and validate their integrity. Only grant VPN access to trusted users, devices and business apps to help protect from rogue access and malware attacks. Also deploy, next-gen firewalls to scan mobile traffic entering your network and block malware before it infects corporate systems and data. Next-gen firewalls can also scan mobile traffic entering your network and block malware before it infects corporate systems and data and block access to and from disreputable web applications and sites, adding another layer of protection.

For more information on the security and access solutions you need to enable mobile worker productivity while protecting from threats, read our eBook: SonicWall Secure Mobile Access.