THE BLOG

And the Winner Is...

01/18/2013 11:23 am ET | Updated Mar 20, 2013

It's awards season -- the time of year when celebrities walk the red carpet, award show hosts try to make us laugh and the most talked about guy is Oscar.

But this year there's another award garnering buzz among the federal crowd -- the Mobile Security Honor Roll.

Earlier this week, we saw a new study on mobile security titled, "The 2013 Digital Dilemma Report: Mobility, Security, Productivity - Can We Have It All?" The report by Telework Exchange, EMC, VMware, Cisco, and Carahsoft takes a look at what agencies are doing, if anything, to secure their employees' mobile devices -- particularly the bring-your-own kind.

The report found that 95 percent of federal employees who are using mobile devices for work tasks do so outside of the office at some point. Not only that, more than half of feds using smartphones and tablets for work are bringing their own.

And, why not? Most feds agree that they are more productive as a result of mobile devices -- they can access government data, log on to their work desktop, and check their emails. VMware Public Sector VP Aileen Black called this mobility trend a "necessary evolution of technology adoption by Federal agencies as employees take advantage of consumer mobile devices to be more productive at work and in their personal lives."

In fact, the study found that feds could gain nine hours a week by using mobile devices. That translates to a total of $28 billion in annual productivity gains for the government. Now that deserves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But with so many feds working outside the office and using their personal devices, agencies have to make sure they are minimizing security risks. While some agencies are providing mobile device security training to employees, BYOD is still getting snubbed -- only 11 percent of feds who use personal devices for work say their agency has a BYOD policy. Additionally, one of every three feds using their personal smartphones for work does not have password protection -- not a winning combination.

Some agencies, however, do have what it takes to be crowned the best and recognized in our Mobile Security Honor Roll. So without further ado, the winner is... Veterans Affairs -- acceptance speech to follow. Also on the Honor Roll are USDA, Interior, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and DoD.

So, what can other agencies learn from these starlets? For starters, implement security measures on mobile devices, such as password protection, multi-factor authentication, secure remote connection, remote data deletion, GPS tracker, and biometrics. Clear BYOD guidelines, as well as training, are also top of the list. Kyle Keller, Federal cloud business director at EMC said it best: "Implementation of policy, training, and technology will be necessary to ensure the best security and control in this new era of increased mobility." He should know -- he's quite the Dean's List cloud scholar.

Follow this recipe for success and your agency could come out a mobile security winner.

Cindy Auten is the general manager of Telework Exchange and a BYOD'er. She would like to thank the Academy and her family.