Oct 27 2021

Q&A: Protecting the Device Is as Critical as Securing the Data Inside

Kensington security devices keep mobile gear safe in transit.

As the bulk of the federal workforce moved out of the office and into remote spaces last year, their devices went with them. Cybersecurity was an immediate concern for IT staff, but physical security also became an issue. A lost or stolen device can pose hazards to a network if the thief or finder discovers a way to unlock it. FedTech magazine talked with Matt Hendrix, federal business development manager for Kensington, about the increased need for physical device security.

FEDTECH: How has the need for device and data protection changed since the beginning of the pandemic?

HENDRIX: In the beginning, there was a scramble to get devices. Agencies were getting anything they could to migrate to a remote workforce as quickly as possible. Now, we are seeing more of a normalization, with a hybrid work scenario, as staff are moving to modified work environments. We are seeing the demand increase again for security solutions, such as locks and privacy screens, as well as keyboards and mice and other accessories. Hoteling is also driving the demand for more ancillary products, such as docking stations, as people move between locations with their mobile devices.

FEDTECH: How have agencies adapted security procedures to cover the increased amount of remote work?

HENDRIX: IT administrators are looking at solutions that allow them to support a remote work force. It used to be easy for an administrator to physically unlock a device in the office if a key was lost. Now, with the workforce potentially being anywhere, the physical interaction is not there, so we are seeing more combination locks with master codes being deployed, and more utilization of the Kensington Register and Retrieve program that allows locks and codes to be administered by IT from a remote position.

DISCOVER: Find out how Kensington can help you secure your agency’s devices.

FEDTECH: How are agencies handling security for devices that move back and forth between remote workplaces and the office?

HENDRIX: The physical security of devices is increasing as workers are both remote and in the office. With more devices than ever being mobile, the need to physically lock and secure them in the workplace, or when the person is working remotely, is more important than ever.

FEDTECH: What is the most vulnerable part of the connection between a device and the agency network, and how can that be protected?

HENDRIX: One point of vulnerability is who is connecting to the agency’s network. With agencies moving to hoteling and shared workspaces, IT administrators want to see beyond the docking station to know what devices are being brought into the space and connecting to the network. Kensington’s proprietary DockWorks software allows the MAC address for the client device to be passed through the docking station and prioritizes the LAN connection over Wi-Fi for added security.

FEDTECH: What tools are necessary for a federal IT team to ensure that their agency’s devices and data remain secure no matter their location?

HENDRIX: Kensington has a full line of physical security products to help ensure agency devices are protected. Whether protecting Microsoft Surface Pro devices with the BlackBelt CAC Enabled rugged cases and keyed or combination locking solutions, or using our unique lock designs that work with legacy devices as well as new deployments, the Kensington Universal 3-1 Locking Solution helps agencies future proof their physical security program.

DIVE DEEPER: Keep teleconferencing tools secure when they’re linked to outside devices.

FEDTECH: Hybrid work situations present unique challenges. What solutions do you offer?

HENDRIX: Among the many things the pandemic has brought into focus for us is the importance of mobility. While some groups were already working toward hybrid work situations, many IT managers had to immediately mobilize entire staffs. Kensington offers solutions that allow universal flexibility for connectivity to ensure staff remain productive both in the office and when working from home or a remote location.

Gartner has shown that 81 percent of organizations support more than one brand of laptop, which creates a significant challenge for IT managers trying to accommodate shared workspaces with hoteling and hot desk scenarios. Kensington docking stations allow for universal connectivity of original equipment manufacturer brands while still providing security for the administrator to see who is connecting to the network. Imagine the worker with a Dell laptop who is connecting his device in a cubicle to dual monitors, a mouse and a keyboard — and the very next day, a different worker is using the same space with his MacBook. Kensington solutions can help both employees to connect and be productive in the same space.

Our physical locking solutions ensure that assets such as office monitors and docking stations remain in place so the next person using the desk has the tools they need to connect and remain productive. We also offer port blockers to secure USB ports when there are multiple employees accessing a shared workstation, so access can be controlled and limits placed on how information may be removed from a device.

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