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DHS Warns Congress On Mobile Device Security

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On May 4, 2017, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submitted a new study to Congress that detailed current and emerging threats to the Federal government’s use of mobile devices and provided recommendations for security improvements. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate in coordination with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and its National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence were responsible for the study.

Overview of Study

The study found that threats to the mobile device ecosystem are growing, and that security of mobile computing is improving. The study also found that threats to the Federal government’s use of smartphones and tablets running mobile operating systems were prevalent across the mobile device ecosystem, and presented a separate and distinct threat from those impacting desktop workstations. The study found that threats to mobile devices range from those perpetrated by nation-states to those committed by organized crime or hackers, and that Federal government mobile devices may be targeted specifically because of their public nature.

Key Recommendations

The study provides a series of recommendations to enhance the Federal government mobile device security measures. A number of these recommendations could be helpful for business to adopt as well:

  • Adopt a framework for mobile device security based on existing standards and best practices.
  • Coordinate the adoption and advancement of mobile security technologies into operational programs to ensure that future capabilities include protection and defense against mobile threats.
  • Develop cooperative arrangements and capabilities with mobile network operators to detect, protect against, and respond to threats.
  • Create a new defensive security research program to address vulnerabilities in mobile network infrastructure and increase security and resilience.
  • Develop policies and procedures regarding U.S. Government use of mobile devices overseas based on threat intelligence and emerging attacker tactics, techniques, and procedures.

This new study highlights the vulnerabilities present in mobile device usage in the workplace. The Dentons Privacy and Cybersecurity team can help you and your business develop a robust and comprehensive mobile defense strategy, and update your existing policies to guard against the growing threats presented to the mobile device ecosystem.