Mobile How-To: Securing and Encrypting Enterprise Mobile Messaging

January 11, 2016
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3 min read

The number of text messages sent each month: 350 billion.

The number of instant messages shared each month: 1.5 trillion (yes, trillion) and growing — rapidly.

Employees across all organizations and industries have relied on texts or instant messaging to communicate and collaborate with co-workers. The great part of texting is instantaneous communication and coordination for rapid response on projects. This productivity boon rapidly goes bust, however, when your company’s big ideas transfer between mobile devices without any form of security.

The Need for Enterprise Mobile Messaging

When a message carrying sensitive information is intercepted, whether accidentally or maliciously, an entire corporation stands on the shaky grounds of potential downfall, from branding to the bottom line. Regardless of whether or not communicating in this form is allowed in your organization, chances are your users are doing so insouciantly.

Yet when you’re operating in a heavily regulated industry like finance, health care or government, you’re obligated to follow stringent compliance standards for the transmission of data. For these industries, security for mobile messaging isn’t just a best practice — it’s the only practice.

Outright banning the most popular form of communication is a drastic decision that could lead to an employee uprising. Users (especially millennials) prefer to be productive on the devices, platforms and productivity apps of their choosing. Simplicity of use, coupled with conditioning in our personal lives, is a powerful force to try to subdue, particularly when the number of times people look at a phone or tablet during the day rises into the triple digits.

Your employees rely on their mobile devices so much that demands against mobile usage has given rise to shadow IT over the past few years. Employees circumvent the traditional IT-supplied systems for untested rogue apps and third-party cloud storage providers. This leaves everyone open to new mobile malware — and your precious secrets are in the public cloud.

Rather than take a draconian approach, organizations can develop successful mobility initiatives that incorporate secure messaging. It all starts with securing user devices.

Securing Your Mobility Initiatives

Having an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution with mobile device management (MDM) is an essential component of any organization’s mobile strategy. It’s a powerful, simple-to-use platform that securely deploys, manages and monitors all mobile devices, apps, docs and data within your organization.

Once user devices are secured with MDM, the next step would be deploying the productivity tools necessary to ensure they’re capable of working efficiently and securely. Productivity features such as email, calendars, contacts and browsers should reside in a secure, encrypted container that utilizes a dual-persona approach. This separates work from personal data and features an approved enterprise app store where users can choose the secure apps they so desperately need.

With MDM and a secure container present on smartphones and tablets, organizations have a platform ready to bolster their mobility initiatives with secure enterprise mobile messaging. But before accepting any run-of-the-mill mobile messaging service into your enterprise app store, look for a solution equipped with tight authority for security that can balance familiarity of function such as consumer text apps. One key option to consider is ephemeral messaging.

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Ephemeral Enterprise Mobile Messaging

Encrypted, ephemeral messaging through services such as Vaporstream provide employees with the necessary control to ensure confidentiality for all communication. Basic security starts with giving end users the ability to control permissions on who can receive messages and how long those messages will remain available.

Further ensuring message content stays only with the right recipients, actions such as copy/paste can be easily disallowed and images can also be obfuscated by blocking screenshots.

For the aforementioned highly regulated industries, which are held to higher data leak prevention standards with HIPAA, FINRA and even the SEC, all communication is stored with a corporate copy for audit later.

Don’t Hinder Collaboration, Support It

There’s no excuse to not support your organization through bolstering mobility initiatives in 2016 for the myriad of productivity, efficiency and security benefits. IBM MaaS360 provides organizations of all sizes with the foundation to simply, expediently and successfully take businesses into the mobile-first world.

Get started today with this free 30-day trial and see firsthand the benefits of managed mobility in only minutes.

Kevin Olivieri
Online Community and Social Media Manager

Kevin is the Online Community and Social Media Manager at Fiberlink, an IBM Company. He currently manages and writes for the MaaSters Blog, which was named o...
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