‘Mobile Computing Revealed (Session One)’ Meetup (Seattle Tech Forum)

Last night was the first of a series of three forums on mobile computing for the Seattle Tech Forum. It was nice to switch gears from the last four months of “Cloud Computing Revealed“.

Our first speaker was Giri Sreenivas, CEO of Mobilisafe. His talk was entitled “BYOD (Bring your own device): What It Is, How We Got Here and What It Means For You”. He discussed the trend of employees using their own preferred devices for corporate computing, rather than IT managers selecting and distributing only sanctioned hardware. I’ve encountered a lot of buzz about BYOD and “enterprise consumerization” in recent months and it looks like there is no turning back. Sreenivas discussed many issues surrounding security and privacy.

Next we heard from Dan Griffin, President & Founder of JW Secure. He spoke about efforts to build in security at the device level. He demonstrated a banking application concept which enabled the bank to authorize devices at a hardware level. If such technology were built into the next generation of devices, this would enable organizations to control exactly who is connecting and with what devices. However, in the Q&A I pointed out that such technology would not help IT managers with much of the BYOD trend, because so much of it involves users using apps external to the IT organization such as DropBox or Salesforce.

Ali Emami, Technical Lead at Microsoft HealthVault presented “Accelerating mHealth with Microsoft HealthVault”. HealthVault is Microsoft’s attempt to address the fact that so much Healthcare information is still stored on paper and transmitted via fax. I had not heard much about HealthVault so I found it pretty interesting.

It is intriguing enough that had me thinking about creating Healthcare apps for a few minutes. Only the last part of his talk where he briefly highlighted various HealthVault mobile apps had much to do with Mobile Computing, so I thought this was an odd fit for this particular STF. Still, I hope that Microsoft has better luck in this space than Google did with Google Health.

Finally we heard Jan Whittington, Associate Director, Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, University of Washington. Her talk was titled “The Economics of Security in Mobile Computing”. She spoke about how we cost is not the same thing as price, and there is a price to the free apps we use on mobile devices. Once we give our personal information to an organization providing a free app, we lose some control over that information, which is a cost in and of itself. We effectively make a monopoly out of that provider, at least as far as we are concerned. There are also costs buried in the chain of dependencies that organization has. Perhaps we trust the provider of the app, but are also exposed to risks by that organization’s hardware providers, creditors and other vendors.

This was a good meetup. I hope the subsequent Mobile Computing forums focus on aspects other than security though, to keep it fresh.

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