July 23, 2014

Best Practices on Security of Mobile Devices Recently Issued by National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”)

The latest in a series of National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) publications is the Guidelines for Managing the Security of Mobile Devices in the Enterprise (the “Guidelines”), a comprehensive document to help federal agencies manage and secure mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets used by their employees for government business (whether organization-provided or personally-owned) against a variety of threats. In addition to extensively updating NIST’s Guidelines on Cell Phone and PDA Security issued in 2008, the Guidelines reflect comments received on a draft version issued last year.

The Guidelines are a valuable resource on enterprise mobile device security for all businesses, not just federal agencies, and are designed to be used by Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), and other information security professionals as best practices when designing, implementing, and maintaining enterprise-level mobile device security.

The Guidelines explain the security concerns inherent in mobile device use and recommend that organizations use a technology solution that centralizes mobile device management at the enterprise level to secure mobile devices used by employees. A centralized mobile device management solution allows organizations to control and manage the configuration and security of both organization-provided and personally-owned mobile devices and provide secure access to enterprise resources, such as an organization’s computer network.

The Guidelines provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of centralized mobile device management technologies, including an overview of the components, architectures, and capabilities of these technologies and offer recommendations for selecting, implementing, and using such technologies.

Other key recommendations for organizations seeking to implement and maintain a sound mobile device security program include:

  1. Instituting a mobile device security policy that is documented in the system security plan and that defines: (1) the types of enterprise resources that may be accessed via mobile devices; (2) the types of mobile devices that are permitted to access the organization’s resources; (3) the degree of access of the various classes of mobile devices (organization-provided mobile devices vs. personally-owned mobile devices) and how provisioning should be handled; (4) how the organization’s centralized mobile device management servers are administered and how policies in those servers are updated, and (5) all other requirements for mobile device management technologies.

  2. Developing system threat models for mobile devices and the organization resources that are accessed through mobile devices before designing and deploying mobile device solutions.

  3. Considering the merits of each security service provided by mobile device solutions, determine which services are needed for the organization’s environment, and then designing and acquiring one or more solutions that collectively provide the necessary security services.

  4. Implementing and testing a pilot of the enterprise mobile device solution before putting the solution into production by: (1) evaluating connectivity, protection, authentication, application functionality, solution management, logging, and performance for each type of mobile device; (2) updating/configuring all components with the latest patches following sound security practices; (3) implementing a mechanism for automatic detection of jailbroken or rooted mobile devices; and (4) ensuring that the mobile device solution doesn’t unexpectedly fall back to insecure default settings.

  5. Securing each organization-issued mobile device before allowing a user to access it by: (1) fully securing to a known good state already-deployed organization-provided mobile devices with an unknown security profile, and (2) deploying supplemental security controls such as anti-virus software and data loss prevention solutions, as needed based on potential risk.

  6. Regularly maintaining mobile device security by employing operational processes such as the ones listed below and perform periodic assessments (vulnerability scans, penetration testing, reviewing logs) to confirm that the organization’s mobile device policies, processes, and procedures are being followed: (1) keeping an active inventory of each mobile device, its users, and applications; (2) deleting applications that have been installed but subsequently assessed as being too risky for use or revoking access to such applications; (3) scrubbing sensitive data from organization-issued devices before re-issuing them to other enterprise users; (4) checking for, acquiring, testing, and deploying upgrades and patches, (5) ensuring that each mobile device infrastructure component has its clock synched to a common time source; (6) reconfiguring access control features as needed; (7) detecting and documenting anomalies, such as unauthorized configuration changes to mobile devices.

Lastly, Appendix A to the Guidelines lists the major controls from the NIST Special Publication 800-53, Security and Privacy Controls for Federal Information Systems and Organizations, Revision 4 that are applicable to enterprise mobile device security and Appendix C provides a list of mobile device security resources.

©1994-2014 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author

Cynthia Larose, Privacy, Security, Attorney, Mintz Levin, Law Firm

Cynthia is Chair of the firm’s Privacy & Security Practice and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP).  She represents companies in information, communications, and technology, including e-commerce and other electronic transactions. She counsels clients through all stages of the “corporate lifecycle,” from start-ups through mid- and later-stage financings to IPO, and has broad experience in technology and business law, including online contracting issues, licensing, domain name issues, software development, and complex outsourcing transactions.


About the Author

Julia Siripurapu, Corporate, Securities, Intellectual Property, Attorney, Mintz

Julia is an Associate in our Corporate & Securities section. Julia's practice focuses on intellectual property and technology licensing and data privacy and security. She represents clients in the structuring, drafting and negotiation of domestic and international agreements for technology development, acquisition, licensing, and distribution, outsourcing transactions, and other commercial transactions involving intellectual property assets. Julia is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) and provides advice to clients on data privacy and security matters.


Boost: AJAX core statistics

Legal Disclaimer

You are responsible for reading, understanding and agreeing to the National Law Review's (NLR’s) and the National Law Forum LLC's  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy before using the National Law Review website. The National Law Review is a free to use, no-log in database of legal and business articles. The content and links on are intended for general information purposes only. Any legal analysis, legislative updates or other content and links should not be construed as legal or professional advice or a substitute for such advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by the transmission of information between you and the National Law Review website or any of the law firms, attorneys or other professionals or organizations who include content on the National Law Review website. If you require legal or professional advice, kindly contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  

Some states have laws and ethical rules regarding solicitation and advertisement practices by attorneys and/or other professionals. The National Law Review is not a law firm nor is  intended to be  a referral service for attorneys and/or other professionals. The NLR does not wish, nor does it intend, to solicit the business of anyone or to refer anyone to an attorney or other professional.  NLR does not answer legal questions nor will we refer you to an attorney or other professional if you request such information from us. 

Under certain state laws the following statements may be required on this website and we have included them in order to be in full compliance with these rules. The choice of a lawyer or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Attorney Advertising Notice: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Statement in compliance with Texas Rules of Professional Conduct. Unless otherwise noted, attorneys are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, nor can NLR attest to the accuracy of any notation of Legal Specialization or other Professional Credentials.

The National Law Review - National Law Forum LLC 4700 Gilbert Ave. Suite 47 #230 Western Springs, IL 60558  Telephone  (708) 357-3317 If you would ike to contact us via email please click here.