Dimension Data’s efforts in assisting clients with creating mobile management processes that are functional and support business ambitions have culminated in its recent appointment by Cisco as an ATP (approved technology provider) in the ISE (identity services engine) technology space.
“We are especially pleased with this development as the ATP Programme is by invitation only and Dimension Data is the very first to achieve this certification in South Africa,” says Samresh Ramjith, GM: Technology and Operations, Dimension Data South Africa.
The programme is a global initiative founded by Cisco as a means to define core knowledge and skills required to deploy specific technologies, with a strong focus on client satisfaction.
“This ATP certification is great news for our client base as they now have access to the combined learnings of a global programme specifically geared towards developing identity security from all around the world. This is just another way we are working towards making technology really work for our clients’ businesses,” says Ramjith.
This is especially relevant as an increasing number of organisations embrace the concept of “bring your own device” (or BYOD) as a means to enable staff to stay in touch regardless of where they happen to be.
Once users are allowed (and even encouraged) to connect their own devices to the corporate network, can company information remain secure? The answer is yes, provided they have the right technology and partners in place to help their business establish an appropriate “mobility friendly” estate.
“Balancing the desire for agility with the risks associated with a more open environment is a definite challenge,” says Ramjith.
“The allure of BYOD is undeniable, yet from a security perspective there are a number of stumbling blocks from the general naiveté of mobile users around security to the technical challenges associated with authentication, authorisation and data security. The most compelling argument against employee-owned devices remains the threat they introduce to the enterprise network.”
Mobility’s fundamental security challenge is that, if managed incorrectly, can compromise the enterprise’s ability to create an inner trust circle where critical assets can safely reside.
“There is no single solution that will reverse the impact mobility will have on an enterprise’s security posture; each organisation integrates mobile users and devices in its own way according to the needs of the business,” he says. “This makes the adoption of a holistic security strategy the only way to cover all the bases.”
A critical component of this strategy, particularly when it comes to BYOD, is controlling who connects to the corporate network. “Mobile devices are transient by design and users are able to install an endpoint – whether this is a laptop, smartphone or tablet – with minimal effort, often without the assistance of the organisation’s IT support team,” explains Ramjith.
“If you don’t know who or what is plugging into your network, you can’t possibly hope to monitor or control it. One of the tools we recommend clients introduce is a Cisco ISE, which provides the means to manage initial authentication of any device at network level.
This engine is able to drive a formalised system that addresses authentication, authorisation, auditing and policy verification issues across the entire organisation and over all end-user devices.
“Once an enterprise is able to regain control over the gateways to its network, the dark horse factor is eliminated. It also means that association of users with all their respective devices becomes possible, creating a single view of that client from a security perspective for administration and control.
“This enables the effective provisioning and deployment of mobile device management software as well and the enrolment of the user in the enterprise’s information lifecycle management processes, including data loss prevention,” says Ramjith.