How to Use Bluetooth Authentication to Create Seamless Enterprise Mobile Security

Last updated: 16 May 2016

Mobile Workforce Security Blog Series – Part 7

Organizations worldwide are seeking greater employee mobility for a variety of business and quality of life reasons. Key to becoming a ‘mobile enterprise’ is the ability to manage and secure the identities and data within an IT ecosystem whose boundaries are becoming increasing blurry. This blog series explores how enterprises can do so to gain enterprise mobile security.

Using Bluetooth Authentication for Enterprise Mobile SecurityThe use of mobile devices in the workplace is a trend driven by employees who want to choose and use their own technology, as well as executives seeking higher productivity, anytime/anywhere access and increased job satisfaction for an on-the-go workforce.  The bring your own device (BYOD) trend is pervasive and not going to slow down. Gartner predicts by 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes, and employees like that idea.  According to a global workforce study, employees value device freedom over a higher salary.

The rapid growth of the mobile movement has many IT teams scrambling to get enterprise mobile security in line with current corporate standards.   The ubiquitous corporate badge, with certificate-based PKI authentication is still one of the most reliable methods to secure your employees and protect your data from unauthorized access.   But mobile device security creates unique challenges because of a lack of embedded card readers or USB ports.

So how do organizations who use PKI extend the same level of security to its mobile workforce? For enterprises that already use a corporate smart card badge or token, implementing a wireless solution would allow employees to use their existing smart cards with any mobile device.   Bluetooth is the only connectivity channel implemented across different endpoints, so it would be able to authenticate on any device.   By providing a Bluetooth authentication solution, enterprise IT can expand the protection of PKI, while allowing employees the freedom of anywhere, anytime convenience of mobile.  In addition to providing a second factor of authentication, PKI using Bluetooth enables employees to digitally sign sensitive documents and encrypt email while on the go.

For enterprises using traditional cards, a wearable badge holder equipped with Bluetooth Smart acts as the card reader.   The user would simply pair the badge holder with their mobile device, much like the process to pair a mobile phone in a Bluetooth-enabled vehicle.   Once the devices are paired, the smart card will be recognized and processed, just as when the smart card is inserted into an internal reader on a laptop.  The same technology exists for enterprises using USB smart tokens, only in this case the chip is installed into a Bluetooth-enabled token that acts as the chip reader.   Pairing with mobile devices is the same as a badge holder.

As enterprise mobility continues to increase, corporate IT must keep up with demand and provide employees with the anywhere, any device access, without disregarding corporate security compliance.   Too often, security standards are relaxed or ignored for mobile users because solutions are limited for many devices.   Bluetooth Smart is a viable technology that enterprise IT can easily implement into a current corporate badge ecosystem and addresses the need for balance between security and mobility.

Best Practices for Securing the Mobile EmployeeTo learn how simple and easy enterprise mobile security can be, check out our webinar or visit our Mobile Workforce Security microsite, and find out how you can secure access to Any Application, from Any Device, at Any Assurance Level, Anywhere.

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