The cloudy state of mobile security – Canadian Government Executive

NEWS

SEARCH

Digital Governance with Jeffrey RoyICT
May 7, 2012

The cloudy state of mobile security

In the October issue, Greg Lane and I discussed the mobility revolution underway and its consequences for government. We also underscored the considerable importance of privacy and security in realizing positive change both organizationally and for society as a whole. As governments look to cloud systems and mobility devices as platforms for collaboration and innovation, there is no greater priority for 2012.

Consider the emergence this past year of the Apple iCloud. Apple is first and foremost a proprietary-driven company, designing and maintaining its own operating system as a platform for products such as iPods, iPhones, and most recently the iPad. What the iCloud does is synchronize the usage of all such products (including Mac computers of course) via a common platform for storage and processing that is housed online (within the confines of Apple’s “private cloud” if you will).

Since Apple does not provide large-scale systems to government, the impacts of this evolution may be largely indirect in the short-term as the iCloud is directed toward the consumer market of Apple product users. Yet there are nonetheless important implications, three of which we look at here.

First, as John Breeden recently pointed out in Government Computer News, the advent of the iCloud denotes a potentially significant expansion of the usage and credibility of the cloud as a concept for wider segments of the public (just as the iPhone has done much to democratize Internet access to mobile devices). As more people gravitate to Apple’s cloud, this concept will likely gain wider understanding and acceptance (further reinforced by existing cloud platforms of Google, Facebook and others).

Already it bears noting that Apple’s hugely successful bridging of its proprietary platforms with a partially open community of “apps” developers has resulted in likeminded efforts by many governments to create a similarly open community of contributors.

Second – and much to the chagrin of Research in Motion – a growing cadre of government workers in many jurisdictions are embracing the iPhone and iPad as mobile devices that transcend personal and professional usage. Indeed, the one time infallible security advantages of the Blackberry network are evermore rivalled in this regard by Apple’s operating system, Google’s open source variant, the Android operating system, and the new collaborative venture between Microsoft and Nokia (all of which underpin a widening assortment of smart phone and tablet devices).

As a recent 2011 report by the Michigan-based Ponemon Institute points out (Seven Tips for Securing Mobile Workers), large organizations must think seriously about an overall enterprise architecture for privacy and security that accounts for not only internal operating systems making use of cloud components, but also an array of external devices. Imposing the choice of digital devices is no longer an option: thus, standards, accountability and training are crucial to balancing openness and flexibility with appropriate information safeguards.

Of course, with respect to Apple product users, an important layer of security and redundancy is now virtualized via their proprietary cloud. This evolution also carries benefits and drawbacks for organizations: on the plus side, Apple is as sophisticated as they come in storing data and safeguarding infrastructure; on the other hand, users may be lulled into a false sense of “security” that carries over into workplace behaviour.

Indeed, a recent study by the Conference Board of Canada found that Canadians are anything but vigilant online in terms of information security practices, and the situation is worsening across social media sites. Another Ponemon study in 2010, for example, revealed that two-thirds of social media users partake without setting high levels of privacy and security: while 80 percent of respondents apparently expressed concern about online security, more than half admitted to not taking any measures whatsoever.

Governments must therefore shift beyond the language of rights and choice in trumpeting individual freedom online. Just as more is expected of corporations and governments, legally and morally, in safeguarding information assets, this same notion of responsibility and accountability must be extended to the citizenry at large. For now, it seems the message is not getting through, with cloud systems and mobile devices inadvertently fostering passiveness even as the stakes are escalating.

Third and finally, government’s clout as a large and strategic consumer of technology systems and devices, coupled with its role as regulator of industry-wide behaviour, create important leverage to promote greater openness and interoperability across otherwise separate proprietary cloud systems and product platforms. As the iCloud takes hold – along with numerous other private, public and hybrid clouds – openness, interoperability and interdependence must be guiding principles for government action both within their jurisdictions and collectively across increasingly porous borders.

 

Jeffrey Roy is Professor of Public Administration at Dalhousie University (roy@dal.ca).

About this author

Jeffrey Roy

Jeffrey Roy

Jeffrey Roy is Professor in the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Management. He is a widely published observer and critic of the impacts of digital technologies on government and democracy. He has worked with the United Nations, the OECD, multinational corporations, and all levels of government in Canada. He has produced more than eighty peer-reviewed articles and chapters and his most recent book was published in 2013 by Springer: From Machinery to Mobility: Government and Democracy in a Participative Age. Among other bodies, his research has been funded by the IBM Center for the Business of Government and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He may be reached at: roy@dal.ca

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Digital Governance with Jeffrey Roy
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
The arrival of President Trump in the White House marks a...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
In January, the BBC and BuzzFeed jointly released an exposé on...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
That the new Liberal Government has embraced ‘open government’ is hardly...
 
In 2011, the World Economic Forum presented its vision of a...
 
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...
 
With a seemingly ubiquitous Internet and mobile devices at every turn,...
 
At the end of November, the Council of Europe hosted the...
 
For the casual observer, openness and transparency are terms that can...
 
At stake is the evolving apparatus enjoining Canadians with the information...
 
Faced with the Newtown tragedy, President Obama has sought to make...
 
The now, seemingly distant 2012 holiday season proved to be fertile...
 
In 2008, President Obama refashioned American politics for a more digital...
 
As governments seek transformational change to shift from austerity to agility,...
 
In recent months, Apple and Samsung have been clobbering one another...
 
During the month of October tens of millions of viewers will...
 
For Egyptians and Mexicans, this past summer showcased the imperfections of...
 
With the federal public service in a state of budgetary retrenchment,...
 
Do we read books anymore? Travel on airplanes or trains these...
 
In February, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper announced the formation...
 
Is there reason to hope? Once again, the federal government has...
 
Au moment où s’amorce la présidence d’Obama, les spéculations vont bon...
 
As the Obama Presidency begins, there is much speculation as to...
 
A strange paradox has emerged in the quest for Gov 2.0....
 
One of the peculiarities of the 21st century is the correlation...
 
When President Barack Obama campaigns during the coming months for re-election,...
 
As the iCloud takes hold – along with numerous other private,...
 
A new year is a good time to reflect on the...
 
If only it were so. While Shared Services Canada promises simplicity...
 
The securing of a much-coveted majority by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives surely...
 
The federal election campaign has not been particularly kind to cities...
 
Despite the occasional ministerial tweet and public banter about the federal...
 
More than a decade ago, some enterprising folks at Industry Canada...
 
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are one of Canada’s most critical...
 
Toronto’s new mayor, Rob Ford, has pledged to cut city council...
 
As BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion negotiates with many governments around the...
 
To start with a timeless question: what do woman want? Presumably,...
 
One important consequence of climate change is rising ocean levels. The...
 
Shortly after the Quebec referendum of October 1995 that brought the...
 
As this column goes to print (literally or online as the...
 
Full disclosure – the Conservative government has serious problems with the...
 
Students of public administration struggle with an important contradiction of Westminster...
 
L’opération de promotion à laquelle l’Alberta s’est récemment livrée souligne les...
 
Alberta’s recent branding exercise underscores the tensions and risks inherent in...
 
La plupart des organismes se voient affecter des « directeurs des...
 
With Parliament once again open and a new federal budget in...
 
Two important global events are garnering much attention: the upcoming Winter...
 
The recent scandals plaguing Ontario’s e-health agency carry important lessons for...
 
The Obama administration is appointing “Directors of New Media” for most...
 
Y a-t-il de l’espoir? Une fois de plus, le gouvernement fédéral...
 
Dans le numéro de janvier, Ruth Hubbard et David Zussman nous...
 
In the January issue, Ruth Hubbard and David Zussman discussed the...
 
The past decade has given rise to tremendous experimentation in public...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
Please to view this Content. (Not a member? Join Today! )...

Member Login

Forgot Password?

Join Us

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.