Cybersecurity attacks are on the rise. No organization or government entity can assume that their employees’ personal and business data are protected. From Target to JPMorgan to Healthcare.gov, breaches are happening all around us. Furthermore, they are escalating in both prevalence and sophistication, and experts agree that there is no end in sight. 

In light of recent attacks, it is critically important to be cautious of mobile risks. Mobile devices are becoming popular targets for hackers as users increasingly store sensitive work files and personal information, such as credit card numbers and social security numbers, on their smartphones. In fact, Symantec’s most recent Norton Cybersecurity Report revealed that 38 percent of mobile users have experienced mobile cybercrime in past 12 months – and this trend will only worsen. 

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We must be vigilant about mobile security, particularly within the federal government. Given the amount of highly sensitive data housed within the walls of government networks, establishing better security standards must be of the utmost importance for federal decision makers – and there’s no time to waste.  Unfortunately, a recent study by the Ponemon Institute indicated that less than half of federal technology managers say that security plays an integral part of their agency’s mobile adoption strategy.  The U.S. government must act now to safeguard itself from emerging threats, and it can only do so by preventing the deployment of untested and unsecure mobile solutions.    

Government employees are increasingly using their mobile devices to access sensitive work data because more government entities are adopting bring-your-own device (BYOD) programs. The movement towards BYOD empowers mobile workforces within the government, but also introduces devices into the government space that have not been rigorously tested for high-security environments. Through BYOD programs, government employees are unknowingly putting their work information at risk via vulnerable channels. To increase security measures, the U.S. government must provide its employees with solutions that keep their work and personal spaces separate. New technologies are essential to create a dual-persona experience that separates personal and work data to guarantee mobile security. 

Unless technology decision makers within the U.S. government implement stricter security standards and take proactive and strategic steps to protect sensitive information, we are facing a potential security crisis. These leaders must ensure that all mobile solutions and devices are certified and meet stringent security standards before they are permitted to access the government’s networks. 

While some have misguidedly joked that BlackBerry devices are an outdated fad of “the ’90s” I can assure you that BlackBerry is best positioned to help mitigate modern-day cyber risks and we are the gold standard of mobile security. BlackBerry is strongly-positioned to protect the government’s most critical information, and we have proven our ability to do so.  To date, we have more than 70 certifications and approval, and we remain the first only end-to-end platform to be awarded Full Operational Capability by U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Additionally, our entire mobile portfolio, which includes BlackBerry 10 devices and our BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 mobility management solution, is STIG approved. 

As a committed partner to the U.S. government, BlackBerry looks forward to meeting the future needs of government mobility and security. It is imperative that the federal government formalize policies to encourage smarter, more secure mobility before it is too late.  While there are many unresolved challenges that lie ahead, government users can immediately protect themselves by choosing solutions with secure endpoints, and we are here to help.

Chen is executive chair and CEO at BlackBerry.