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Securing Mobile Data: Start With a Simple Approach

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Reading Brian Katz's storyabout the best ways to secure mobile data made me think of a customer meeting I sat in on earlier this year, where the single goal was clear: The enterprise IT customer didn't care about what types of mobile devices his employees used, but he did care about data.

He knew that right now, sensitive presentations and sales-figure documents were floating around in the cloud, without any real security keeping the corporate knowledge protected. That CIO knew that being highly mobile allowed his sales force to sell more of their product; but he also knew the current situation was a problem waiting to happen. His charge to the vendor: Help me keep my mobile data safe.

I think that task is the hardest thing right now on the enterprise IT to-do list. On one hand you have the rapidly expanding world of devices and consumer services, rapidly declining in price. On the other hand you have the same concerns businesses have traditionally had, in wanting to keep corporate information protected from competitors or bad actors. In some cases, those concerns are legal requirements and carry with them potential penalties should the data be lost or compromised.

So where do you start? I like Katz's go-to method of putting data into two buckets, corporate and non-corporate, and encrypting the former for starters. There is a lot of talk going around now about how to "sandbox" not just data but full apps -- and that's a great next step. But you have to start somewhere, and you need to start now. The two buckets approach seems pretty smart to me.

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