Making agility work for a modern government

Ask a leader about the key to success in a rapidly changing world, and the answer isn’t surprising. It’s the ability to adapt and respond to new environment...

Ask a leader about the key to success in a rapidly changing world, and the answer isn’t surprising. It’s the ability to adapt and respond to new environments and demands. Simply put, agility.

For those of us who work in heavily regulated industries, the path to agility is not always so simple, especially when dealing with the growing need to adopt and deploy enterprise mobility strategies. That is especially true now as federal agencies deal with the dual challenge of increased remote work, often from home, and increasing sophisticated cyber and network attacks on that work. Never before has a mobile strategy that shores up endpoint security and streamlines manageability been more important. In fact, they are the keys to agility and productivity.

As the supplier of 300K agency-issued mobile devices (and serving 90% of the DoD Classified Mobility Community), we understand what government leaders and federal agencies must do to fulfill and meet their mission and business information sharing objectives. We have seen the importance of delivering actionable information to end-users. Military operators and law enforcement officers need real-time or near-real-time data exchange and related capabilities from the command and control level to the tactical edge in order to effectively dictate the terms of engagement, and ultimately succeed.

Where would that operator, federal agent or law enforcement officer be if they lacked the flexibility that comes from having the right communication and information tools at the right time? Or on-demand data? Or the confidence – whether in field or at home – to do their mission-critical work on a mobile device securely and compliantly?

Simply put, mobility solutions that offer an end-to-end security ecosystem, software integration and seamless and secure desktop access are mission critical.

Specifically, mobile devices must have robust security from the chip and hardware level all the way to the software stack, enabling features like malware protection, advanced biometrics, and mission action verification. Additionally, with smartphones serving multiple purposes, including being the centerpiece of a work-from-anywhere strategy, dual data-at-rest encryption – adding two separate layers of encryption – is fast becoming a critical component to security and the agility it permits.

The need for a high level of security that aligns with government work has always been the case, but it is becoming more so now. That’s partly because the scope of remote work is increasing, and there are signs work from home will continue post-COVID. In fact, more than 80% of DoD IT and program managers said they want to see more frequent telework post-pandemic. The other part, though, is another reality of the times: As remote work increases, so does the digital footprint of agencies and the associated cyber threats.

Early in the pandemic, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported seeing up to 4,000 cybersecurity complaints every day, a 400% increase from pre- COVID-19 levels. More recently, Bryan Ware, assistant director for cybersecurity for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, put it this way: “The enterprise perimeter is now extended into a person’s home.” It extends to a person’s pocket, as well. One study points to more than a quarter of all organizations globally being impacted by cyberattacks involving a mobile device.

Fortunately, high-performance mobile devices can be the first line of defense, too, particularly if we manage them well.

Manageability can have different meanings. For instance, a device must be lightweight so that it can easily fit into a pocket or attach as a body camera. When these small devices can connect to private networks or radio systems they aren’t just important, they’re a competitive advantage. Similarly, when outfitted with an agency’s apps and custom accessories, these devices provide situational awareness, facilitate data collection and assist with nearly every other essential task that agency personnel need to stay productive no matter where they are working.

Manageability also speaks, critically, to how organizations keep a “fleet” of devices secure. Departments must update smartphones with the latest software and applications to defend against evolving and dangerous threats. Inconsistent updates or carrier delays can leave devices vulnerable. That’s why, in the present day and age, secure management means remote management.

However, secure management is only as good as your ability to enforce compliance out of the box. With automated bulk enrollment tools, over-the-air customization technologies, and zero day feature support for security features, agency IT ensures devices comply with all regulatory requirements and are ready-to-go the moment they are deployed. In September, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin testified to a House subcommittee that since the pandemic began, “phishing attempts have doubled and malware attacks have increased exponentially.” The ability to thwart these attacks and deliver and deploy security patches remotely and rapidly can be the difference between success and failure.

When devices are ready-to-go and don’t need to be taken offline to update and patch, it keeps people on the job. When the user experience (UE), from enrollment to end use, is fast, easy and well-supported, it improves efficiency. And when the user interface (UI) is consistent and intuitive, it keeps devices — and the officers/agents/operators using them — agile and productive.

For federal government departments and agencies, agility is no longer a question or an option. It’s the new standard reinforced by the mobile solutions that provide security and manageability. To fulfill their missions, these organizations need the most forward-thinking and innovative device capabilities on the market.

Let’s make sure they have the tools they need to do the job.

Chris Balcik is vice president of sales for the federal government at Samsung.

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