First responders are meant to be mobile. The very nature of their work requires them to move to different locations frequently, often switching between WiFi and cellular networks as they go, multiple times each day. As a result, first responders need security solutions like NetMotion Mobility (a dedicated mobile virtual private network solution) to ensure that they are able to maintain connectivity without having to log in or re-authenticate applications running on their devices or in the cloud. NetMotion Mobility is fully compatible with one of the U.S.’s most popular networks dedicated to first responders, FirstNet, the First Responder Network Authority. By maintaining a connection on the backend, mobile users are able to maintain session continuity and user authentication credentials while they travel, even when the signal with the endpoint drops completely for a period of time.
Evolution to EMM + VPN
Traditionally, organizations with large numbers of connected devices have relied on Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to ensure that lost or stolen enterprise devices could be locked, located, and wiped as needed. As these have become more sophisticated, many organizations have shifted to Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) tools, which give organizations more granular control over their devices.
For example, by placing their smartphones, tablets, and laptops in a “supervised mode” administrators can lock them into a preferred configuration that’s tailored to their precise needs and usage policies. EMMs and VPNs often include powerful policy controls, which effectively allow IT to restrict application usage to certain times and networks (e.g. WiFi or cellular), in addition to controlling what websites and databases the device can access. Similarly, EMMs make it possible to initiate over-the-air software updates and patches, without any user intervention.
FirstNet, which is operated by AT&T, takes a multipronged approach to device security. Because public safety organizations manage critical and often proprietary information, data protection is paramount. By using a product like an EMM, employees’ devices can be forced to connect to the internet and other networks via a VPN or even an SSL-encrypted link. FirstNet’s app store includes end-to-end encryption tools that work with its 4G LTE network, while VPNs typically handle security when employees move between cellular and WiFi networks. NetMotion Mobility, for example, meets the FIPS 140-2 requirement and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Image: courtesy FirstNet
FirstNet’s Focus on Security
FirstNet uses VPN solutions to deliver secure data connections between the FirstNet core and restricted government databases, such as the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS). AT&T’s Private Mobile Connection tool establishes a highly secure private connection by extending an organization’s existing WAN infrastructure out to mobile devices, allowing agencies to quickly build connections in remote or temporary locations. It also has the power to use mobile device IP address information to limit which databases a device is permitted to access.
At the end of the day, first responders just need to know that their devices are going to work no matter the situation. By ensuring that their data is not only safe but also optimized, NetMotion’s FirstNet VPN is giving first responders access to the best, most reliable connection in the industry.