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Aiming to extend its offerings from the PC to the mobile sphere, Symantec has announced a new mobile security and management strategy that encompasses solutions for enterprises, consumers and communication service providers.
Smartphone owners are increasingly using the same devices for personal and business usea development that offers huge potential productivity increases, but which also presents new security and management challenges for IT organizations, consumers and communication service providers. Symantec plans to be the go-to provider of solutions to answer those challenges.
Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC) today announced a new mobile security and management strategy that aims to provide mobile solutions for managing and securing all mobile devicesincluding phones and tablets using the Android and Apple iOS operating systems. The new strategy includes specific offerings for enterprises, for consumers and for communication service providers.
"Symantec's mission is to secure people and information through identity, protection and context, and our broad approach to mobile security and management is a key extension of protection for all of our customers," said Francis deSouza, senior vice president, Enterprise Security Group, Symantec. "By providing mobile security and management for smart devices, we're making it easier for enterprises to allow their employees to use their device of choice without putting corporate data at risk."
Consumerization is a major challenge facing IT departments today, according to John Kuhn, director of product management, Core Security Group, Symantec. In other words, more and more consumer products are finding their way into enterprise IT environments, and business devices are also being used for personal purposes. Consumers love their new devices, and they often offer powerful productivity enhancements, but management is an issue.
"The explosion of new mobile device platforms into the marketplace and the growing use of these devices for personal and business use has increased the challenge for organizations and individuals to gain a comfortable level of control," said Stephen Drake, program vice president for Mobility & Telecom research at IDC. "Individuals and organizations must take action to secure and manage these devices to ensure their personal and corporate information remains safe."
IT administrators need to be able to enable heterogeneous access while enforcing governance, securing corporate data and maintaining visibility and control of all the mobile platforms.
"What's critical for enterprises to focus on with the devices themselves is to provide the basic control and protection mechanisms that would decrease risk in a material way," Kuhn said. Such mechanisms include setting passwords, wiping business data from a device if an employee leaves the company, encryption policy, turning the camera off in certain situations, etc.
Under the new mobile strategy, Symantec offers enterprise mobile security and management solutions in four key areas, as follows:
- Device management: Symantec Mobile Management
- Device security: Symantec Endpoint Protection Mobile Edition, Symantec Network Access Control Mobile Edition
- Device encryption: PGP Mobile, PGP Support Package for BlackBerry
- Strong authentication: VeriSign Identity Protection (VIP) Access for Mobile, VeriSign Device Certificate Services.
Meanwhile, consumers also need mobile protection, though their concerns are of a different sort. As mobile devices become increasingly ubiquitous, they are also becoming an increasingly attractive target for spammers and criminals. Consumers need to be able to block SMS spam, block malicious applications and protect their personal information when a device is lost, stolen or compromised by a threat.
Symantec's solution is its recently released Norton Everywhere, intended to extend the popular Norton brand beyond the PC to mobile devices. The product combines Symantec's consumer security, backup and infrastructure technologies. Existing offerings under the Norton Everywhere umbrella include Norton Mobile Security for Android and Norton DNS, which is available for any device, from the iPad to game consoles and Wi-Fi routers.
Finally, the new mobile strategy also focuses on carriers.
"One of the ways you can control security is at the point where [businesses] are connecting to the network, and that's the carrier," Kuhn said.
Symantec plans to offer a series of new solutions for carriers that will allow them to better secure networks and better manage policy enforcement and user preferences. Symantec plans to launch its offerings for service providers in the winter of 2010.
Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to eSecurityPlanet.com and a former senior editor at InternetNews.com, covering operating systems, standards and security.