The introduction of VPN use on smartphones open the doors for a whole new world of mobile security. The smartphone was once a completely unprotected device – highly subject to data breaching. The battle is ongoing, especially with new technologies like the Snoopy Drone, but VPN compatibility has proven to be a step in the right direction.
However, a VPN is only as effective as the settings behind it. This is where things can get a little limited with smartphone browsing. Thankfully, there have been a few advancements since VPNs have made their way to smartphones. A more recent popular inclusion is that of per-app controls.
What Are Per-App Controls?
Per-app controls are simply settings for a VPN that are set based on the app that’s in use.
The newest improvements on VPNs for smartphones do not beef up network traffic security. However, they do help with limiting the amount of accessible broadcasted noise that stirs up when using an unsecured network. This increases security while browsing on public wireless networks, such as at hotels and restaurants.
The List of Recent Per-App Settings Implementations in Smartphones
The per-app settings that have shown up recently are found in a broad range of smartphone brands and mobile operating systems.
Here is a list of some of the new settings and which phones or systems they apply to.
Dell Secure Mobile Access
With this alone, your Dell smartphone will have a setting where the IT administrator can block off VPN access from certain apps, which limits the apps with Internet and access to your VPN. This cuts back on the apps that can gain access to your corporate network via the VPN on your smartphone. Policy settings also allow for this control to be designated to specific users and devices. At the same time, data communication through personal apps is impossible, so corporate data remains protected.
This works perfectly with the Dell SonicWALL VPN!
Windows Phone 8.1
Windows Phone 8.1 will include a very valuable security control for corporate users. This is the per-app VPN configuration setting, which allows the user to connect with a VPN for the purpose of accessing their corporate network. Individual apps will also be able to be managed based on the VPN that they will connect with. This means that the administrator can pair each app with a particular destination.
For instance, you could have a budgeting app locked to your corporate VPN and a shipping schedule spreadsheet locked to a vendor. This means that network connecting is no longer manual, selecting the application you wish to use will open it with the third-party VPN or corporate VPN, depending on the settings you chose.
MobileIron is actually a company that focuses around mobile IT protection. One of the mobile VPN solutions they offer is the MobileIron+ iOS7 which offers tremendous advancements in Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM). The MobileIron iOS7 features allow users to take advantage of per-app VPN controls, enterprise single sign-on, and much more. The per-app control allows an individual to take advantage of instant VPN security. Simply put, the user just has to open the app and they’re as good as gold.
The Risks of Not Using Per-App Settings
The risks that may surface as a result of avoiding these controls will vary depending on the apps, VPNs, and networks that you interact with. For instance, someone that never uses their smartphone for apps or public network access will not notice a difference. However, someone that is active with applications and wants to safely access public networks will have a night-and-day difference in their privacy.
Simply put, you do not want to expose your corporate VPN to absolutely every app that you connect with. You also do not want to expose your corporate VPN to every third party you interact with.
It’s not just a matter of protecting your networks though.
The per-app controls allow you to separate which apps actually have to go through your VPN. This means that you can reduce bandwidth usage by just directing traffic that is meant for business apps.
Take Advantage of Per-App Controls and Protect Your VPNs and Networks
Smartphones are starting to become a very invaluable tool in today’s business world. Most people are using their smartphone for both business and personal matters – after all, today’s economy does not justify being able to afford two separate phones. This is usually fine, but it is only acceptable if the appropriate security and privacy measures are used, especially when the phone connects to your corporate network.
It is good to see that companies are starting to take corporate network security on mobile phones seriously. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but these gradual changes are for the better. If you are a smartphone user that connects to a VPN that you want to protect, then make sure you take advantage of per-app settings – unless, of course, you limit yourself from apps and public wireless networks.
The great thing is that the increased security comes with a single click. Of course, you have to do the initial settings changes, but once that is done you only have to open the app. You no longer have to go through a lengthy process to have different security settings every time you use a different app.