District Defend™: Empowering a secure mobile workplace for government

The ability to work on the go has gained a crucial importance with regards to workforce morale and productivity, as well as employers’ ability to attract and retain talent in an increasingly hot job market. According to Gallup, opportunities to work flexibly and remotely have a major influence on employees’ decisions to accept or move on from a job, and half of employees polled for a recent report by The Economist Intelligence Unit cited the ability to work from any place at any time as having the biggest impact on their productivity.

Such widely held sentiments make it clear that to remain competitive, employers must embrace technologies and practices that empower mobility throughout the workday.

While many private sector companies are doing so by implementing flexible work-from-home and bring-your-own-device policies, public sector moves toward workplace mobility are often forestalled by security concerns and other challenges. The Government must constantly defend its network infrastructure against rapidly evolving threats, both physical and cyber. Allowing federal employees to work on mobile devices like laptops and tablets increases the number of possible entry points for attackers. In most cases, going mobile requires upfront investment in replacing costly legacy systems and processes, which can feel like a prohibitively heavy lift. And the attendant culture change that makes workplace mobility attractive to many is a source of apprehension for leaders who are more inclined to stick with the status quo of an in-office work environment.

But as more employees start to expect the mobile options that their private sector counterparts already enjoy, agencies face an obligation and an opportunity to enable higher productivity and satisfaction within their citizen-serving workforces. A flexible work environment often means higher morale, greater efficiency, and even long-run cost savings. Industry partners are responding to this growing need by creating mobile workplace solutions tailored for the unique challenges of the government space.

At the forefront of this effort is Booz Allen Hamilton. This past September, the company launched District Defend, a new technology that empowers federal agencies to go mobile without sacrificing security. It does so by dynamically enforcing device capability policies even when devices are powered off, allowing agencies to rest assured that their data is not falling into the wrong hands.

District Defend is a context-aware solution that, when installed on a laptop or tablet, automatically matches the device’s security settings to the security requirements of its physical location, freeing employees to take their device with them from the war room to the board room and any room in between.

Managing a secure, mobile workforce in government

District Defend works by securing devices through centrally-managed, situation-based controls. Agency administrators can set policies that automatically form the security framework for individual devices – which can be enforced at the individual, group, or enterprise levels. The technology can change security settings on mobile devices from moment to moment based on a variety of contextual triggers, including:

  1. Physical location
  2. Network connectivity status
  3. Time-based permissions
  4. Individual end-user characteristics (e.g. title, department or security clearance)

Automated enforcement of administrator-determined settings means that end users have no role in managing their device’s security protocols, ensuring that the right settings lock into place as devices move from one environment to another. Unlike typical mobile device management solutions, District Defend is built into devices during the manufacturing process, enabling protection below the operating system at the hardware and firmware level. Factory installation means that devices are protected from the moment they leave the assembly line, securing the IT supply chain.

District Defend also protects lost or stolen devices with data-at-rest encryption, forensically sound remote disk wipes that can be set to trigger automatically, and a visible record of a device’s last known location.

Getting started  

As mobile workplaces become the norm throughout the private sector, government employees increasingly expect their organizations to follow suit. To maintain a talented workforce and meet rising productivity standards, agencies must find ways to adopt modern mobility practices without putting data and security at risk.

To learn more about how District Defend can bolster employee productivity and efficiency while meeting the highest standards of Federal Government security, click here.

This content is made possible by Booz Allen Hamilton. The editorial staff of NextGov was not involved in its preparation.

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