Nothing says "consumerization of IT" like employees bringing their own iPhones to work. And nothing says "security headache" more than employees using those same devices to sync company data to personal cloud storage services without adequate encryption safeguards.

Enter DataLocker, a free mobile app for iOS devices that allows Dropbox users to encrypt their files locally and in the cloud. Announced last week, DataLocker is the first product from AppSense Labs, a new research arm of user virtualization software company AppSense.

With this release, AppSense says it is pursuing a goal to "bridge personal and enterprise computing." The DataLocker suite includes apps for iPhone and iPad as well as free desktop clients for Windows and Mac OS. The company says a key focus of the research division is "helping people harness emerging cloud, tablet, and mobile technologies, alongside traditional PCs and enterprise IT infrastructure."

Consumerization of IT and Its Cloudy Consequences

Smartphones and tablets have helped boost employee productivity, but at a price. The downside of the consumerization of IT, or BYOD (bring your own device) as the trend is being increasing called, is that corporate data often ends up residing on personal cloud storage services -– data that risks exposure by a determined hacker or technical slipups.

In a company blog post, Doug Lane, AppSense's director of product marketing, describes the unsafe concessions users are making for on-the-go access to their data.

He writes, "We all love the convenience that comes with using Dropbox or similar services to keep data in sync between the cloud and all of our devices. We like it so much in fact, that sometimes we make security and privacy trade-offs that we probably shouldn't when it comes to sending personal and corporate information up to the cloud."

To combat this risk, DataLocker links with Dropbox accounts to allow users to sync encrypted files across their devices. It offers drag-and-drop simplicity in Windows and Mac with the ability to store the encrypted data on any local or cloud location -- Dropbox or otherwise. The iOS device integration is limited to Dropbox for now, though the company plans to integrate with other services in the future.

The protection offered by DataLocker adds an additional layer of protection on top of the encryption already built in to Dropbox. As last year's Dropbox security vulnerability illustrated, that extra protection could mean the difference between secure data and a costly breach.

Though DataLocker is still primarily a consumer-targeted product, AppSense hints that the virtual desktop specialist has the BYOD crowd squarely in its sights. According to Lane, "DataLocker is not the end game for us when it comes to cloud and mobility. It's really the beginning."

DataLocker is available as a free software download at AppSense Labs for the PC and Mac (registration required). iPhone and iPad users can download the iOS app via the iTunes store.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.