Guidelines for Mobile Device Security

Mobile devices allow workers to work in multiple locations and to improve their efficiency. But the same features that make these devices desirable make them a security challenge. Mobile devices can easily be lost or stolen, and users may be tempted to download nonsecure apps that might conceal "malware" that could be used to steal confidential data. Since security is minimal for mobile devices, a thief can retrieve sensitive data directly from the device, or use the phone or tablet to access an organization's computer network remotely.

The revised guidelines recommend using a software technology that centralizes device management at the organization level to secure both agency-issued and personally owned devices that are used for government business. Centralized programs manage the configuration and security of mobile devices and provide secure access to an organization's computer network. They are typically used to manage the smart phones that many agencies issue to staff. The new guidelines offer recommendations for selecting, implementing, and using centralized management technologies for securing mobile devices.

"Mobile devices need to support multiple security objectives: confidentiality, integrity and availability, so they need to be secured against a variety of threats," explains co-author and NIST guest researcher Karen Scarfone. This publication provides specific recommendations for securing mobile devices and is intended to supplement federal government security controls specified in NIST's fundamental IT security document, Recommended Security Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations.

The draft guidelines also recommend developing system threat models for mobile devices and those resources accessed through them, instituting a mobile device security policy, implementing and testing a prototype of the mobile device solution before putting it into production, securing each organization-issued mobile device before allowing a user to access it, and maintaining mobile device security regularly.; Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)