Users access the corporate services through the same remote-access protocols that any other remote employees would use. “You log in to the network just as if you were using a DSL or cable modem,” Nortel’s Morell says. That could mean the use of VPNs, Web-based access, or terminal emulation such as Citrix Systems servers -- the enterprise uses the same remote-access mechanism provided to users from a home broadband connection, an Internet terminal, or a Wi-Fi hot spot.
In an effort to secure their 3G networks, carriers have tapped technology built into the CDMA and GSM protocols to encrypt over-the-air data and hinder access by snoopers. Customers, however, remain responsible for securing connections from carrier networks through the public Internet and into their enterprise systems and must secure user devices themselves. That means 3G users will have the same security methods -- encryption, VPNs, hardware IDs, password challenges, and so forth -- as any other remote user supported by their enterprise.
This standard remote-access security could be less than enterprises are used to with messaging services such as those from Research In Motion (RIM) and Good Technology. That’s because the messaging services typically provide a high level of encryption and initiate the connection to the device, so the enterprise retains full control over the communications. As is any other remote device, a 3G-connected device is capable of initiating connections itself. And the encryption level implemented by IT may be less than what RIM or Good Technology offer.
The increased reliance on mobile devices encouraged by 3G networks means that IT should consider developing a mobile security policy that includes protecting the device’s contents as well as its access to enterprise servers, says Marvin Chartoff, CTO of global infrastructure services at Unisys. Enterprises will also demand the ability to “kill” a lost or stolen device so that its data can no longer be accessed, he adds.
Although disabling a device remotely is possible over 2.5G networks, a faster, more reliable 3G connection “means the minute that I know the device is lost, I can zap it,” says Ojas Rege, senior director of mobile solutions at Sybase mobile subsidiary iAnywhere. The faster speeds of 3G increases the chances of the “kill” command being received by the device before the thief prevents that action.
Wi-Fi networks, by contrast, often use inferior security mechanisms, and in many cases not even the basic security has been turned on. Wi-Fi networks can be deployed by almost anyone, so the level of security know-how often varies widely.
Incremental gains for handheld users
The arrival of 3G will have a less dramatic effect on handheld users because these devices and their applications were designed mainly for offline uses, with occasional synchronization via a cradle or slow cellular connection necessary when the user moves from one location to another.
Good Technology, which provides a messaging service used largely by executives on handheld devices, expects 3G to help bring richer applications to handheld devices. “EvDO and HSDPA will help make GoodAccess take off,” says John Friend, CTO of Good Technology.