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U.S. Counties Vulnerable To Mobile Device Management Problem in FBI/Apple Battle

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

A survey of the IT departments of 50 top U.S. counties finds that, while most of the government entities provide mobile devices such as cell phones to employees, fewer than half confirmed that they use "mobile device management" (MDM) software, and only about a quarter of the total verified that they require the MDM software to be installed across all county departments.

Those International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers, Inc. (IAITAM) survey findings suggest that many U.S. counties could be vulnerable to their own version of the current impasse between Apple and the FBI over accessing a suspected terrorist's cell phone provided by San Bernardino County, his employer.

A separate survey by IAITAM of 177 companies, trade association and government agencies found more than nine out of 10 respondents (92 percent) provide mobile devices to employees, almost three out of four (72 percent) have MDM software in place, and seven out of 10 (70 percent) require installation of MDM software across all departments.

  • 43 counties provide mobile devices to employees versus seven that do not.
  • Of the counties providing mobile devices to employees, 20 have MDM software, nine do not, and 14 counties either did not answer or were not sure about the answer. Top U.S. counties providing mobile devices to employees without MDM software including Harris, Maricopa, Tarrant, and Broward counties.
  • Of the 20 counties with mobile devices/MDM software, 9 require it to be imposed across all departments, 2 do not, and 9 either did not answer or were not sure about the answer. The lack of awareness of such a policy on the part of county IT Departments is considered by IAITAM to be equally as troubling as an affirmation that MDM software is not required to be installed. Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and Fairfield County in Connecticut both confirmed that, like San Bernardino County, they do not have uniform policies for installing the MDM software available for county-owned mobile devices provided to employees.

Last week, IAITAM warned that thousands of US corporations, national government agencies and state, local and city government units have the same kind of "sloppy and dangerous" approach to mobile device management (MDM) leaving them exposed to the problem in which San Bernardino now finds itself.

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Tags: USA