Mobile security is top of mind for many security practitioners these days, with malicious software and lost devices (and data) topping the list of concerns. In addition, many organizations need secure messaging not just for the sake of maintaining confidentiality, but also for compliance with regulations such as HIPAA. Marble Security can help security pros build a strong mobile defense program.

The company positions its mobile security management solution as "mobile device management (MDM) plus," going beyond simple device management with a mobile security management platform that prevents sophisticated attacks on enterprise networks. It combines primary research from its threat analysis lab with network and device threat detection to protect devices with a combination of dynamic and static application risk analysis. Threat is assessed behaviorally, using more than 50 risk factors, and response is dictated by pre-established risk access policies.

MDM Architecture

The key to understanding Marble Security is the solution's architecture. A client app runs on each mobile device and performs preliminary threat assessment. Devices then connect to Marble's security infrastructure via VPN, where additional traffic analysis is conducted and a dynamic risk score is determined.

Risk scores are established for each user, device, app and network connection, and then security policy is applied. Security policy might allow or disallow an app, force the use of a secure mobile browser, or block traffic based on URL or IP address. Policy is very easy to configure, and organizations can have as many policies as they wish. It is both easy and powerful to apply policy based on user and/or group.

A critical component of Marble Security's infrastructure is Marble Labs, a part of the solution that constantly monitors and analyzes global network traffic, real-time security data feeds, newly deployed apps, potential phishing attacks, malware distribution and command-and-control centers. Researchers at Marble Labs are a busy bunch, adding real-time updates and new algorithms on a daily basis. In this way, Marble is constantly evaluating the risk posture of every mobile user and device connecting to corporate networks, applications and cloud services.

Secure SMS Messaging

Many organizations find that employees and partners use SMS text messaging to communicate. Healthcare workers regularly text to communicate with colleagues about the diagnosis and treatment of patients, for example. While this is convenient for employees, text messaging is by nature an insecure method of communication. Marble Messenger is a secure solution for transmitting, reading and storing electronic protected health information in a way that is compliant with HIPAA, the HITECH Act and Omnibus Rule.

Once installed and configured, Marble Messenger is almost transparent to the user. Text messages and attachments are displayed in threads just like regular text messages. Messages can be recalled or set to expire. All messages are archived in a central location to facilitate audits if necessary. During testing, a Marble employee sent me a secure text message. As a non-Marble user, I received an email notification of the secure message. I clicked a link in the email that downloaded the free "light" version of the client so I could view and securely respond to the message. The process was straightforward.MarbleSecurity

Effortless Mobile Device Administration

All administration for Marble Security takes place within Marble Control, a Web-based console hosted within Marble's cloud. I found the interface intuitive and comprehensive. I was able to build password policy effortlessly, setting rules for password strength and the maximum number of failed unlock attempts. Marble Control turned the intricate task of building remediation policy into an uncomplicated series of sliders. For example, I could deny access to the secure browser if the device risk score met or exceeded seven out of 10. (These scores are based on analysis performed by the client app and the Marble Cloud.)

The Device Profile is perhaps the most valuable report in Marble Control. This shows the risk details based on device configuration (Is a passcode set? Is stored data encrypted?) and network, application and behavioral risk detected. A single score is generated, and I could tell at a glance whether a device and user were protected or not. I could dive down into activity history and other logs, and see which apps were installed. Most important, I could build policy on the fly to meet a specific set of circumstances.

In a world where mobile security risk is rapidly growing, Marble Security provides a powerful and straightforward solution to help mitigate that risk.

Matthew David Sarrel is executive director of Sarrel Group, an editorial services, product test lab and information technology consulting company. He is a contributing editor for PC Magazine, a contributing analyst for GigaOM and a frequent contributor to the family of sites.  Previously, he was a technical director for PC Magazine Labs, where he led all testing conducted by the Applications, Enterprise and Development Software, OS and Utilities, Network Infrastructure and Wireless LAN teams. His career also includes stints as an executive at two Internet startups and as director of IT for the New Jersey Medical School National Tuberculosis Center.