Friday, March 22, 2013

Security Implications from One Year on Mobile Only

Benjamin Robbins (@PaladorBenjamin) just completed 52 solid weeks working solely on mobile. Of course there were some issues, but he did it and the lessons learned are instructive.

A key takeaway:
    From a practical perspective I’ve learned that there are certain needs of human ergonomics that you just can’t engineer your way around no matter how cool the technology. I can say with confidence that a monitor and keyboard are not going anywhere anytime soon.
This is a key insight for people in mobile security.  Its not Mobile only that we should be designing for. Its Mobile +. Mobile and something else, on top of that any number of hyrbid models like BYOD and COPE.

Your mobile device is an extension of other things, its not a full replacement. So as someone designing security and identity services for mobile, you have to be able to mesh that identity with the server, the other machines and the directory management systems.

It tempting to think of machines and mobile devices as islands that we need to protect (enterprise archipelago security architect?), but this is to miss the point. The mobile device needs data input from other places (likely by people using keyboards ;-P), need access to documents, and they need server side communications. Users also want something resembling a consistent set of access rights no matter what platform they are using - laptop, webapp, mobile, workstation or tablet. These are unsolved problems in the security and identity industry today.

Still Benjamin Robbins' piece is a great testament to, practical issues aside,  how far things have come in a short while for mobile. I continue to expect that we see more mobile apps not less and that the devices will snowball on top of the servers, browsers, services, and desktop/laptop machines you already have to cope with. Design your security services accordingly.

Three days of iOS and Android AppSec training with Gunnar Peterson and Ken van Wyk - Training dates NYC April 29-May 1

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