The rise of mobile working is forcing businesses and manufacturers to focus on providing secure mobile enterprise applications and services on mobiles, according to US-based company OK Labs.
The move is driven by employees who want to either use their own mobile device for work purposes or their work mobile for personal requirements. The trend has been dubbed the ‘consumerisation’ of the work phone.
New advances in secure mobile working should appeal to businesses, which in turn will provide manufacturers, distributors and dealers in the mobile industry with new opportunities, OK Labs said.
RIM has already made changes to its BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) to make it easier for employees to use their BlackBerry as a work and personal phone.
In February, Motorola Mobility announced that it had acquired 3LM, a developer of mobile enterprise security software, solutions and device management products for the Android operating system. HTC, Sony Ericsson, Pantech and Sharp Electronics have announced they will work with 3LM to produce an end-to-end mobile management solution based on the 3LM Android enterprise platform.
But two issues arise from consumerisation, according to Steve Subar, president and CEO of Chicago-based OK Labs, which supplies embedded virtualisation software for mobiles and wireless devices.
Speaking to Mobile at the Mobile World Congress, Subar said: ‘How does the company protect its information and applications on the phone, and how does the user protect his emails, texts and browsing experiences from being seen by the company? Personal privacy is an issue, as users want the freedom to be able to use work phones for their own purposes without being “spied” on.
‘The move to mobile working is giving rise to issues of security, privacy and freedom. And the reality is that most off-the-shelf devices do not meet the security requirements of enterprises.
‘So there are three possibilities: two separate devices; a business device that locks down certain applications and gives the company the ability to see your personal emails and no one will be happy with this or you create a separate personal domain and a company domain on the same device.’
OK Labs has been developing software to allow this separation on a single device for several years, and more than one billion mobile devices now have OK Labs software on them. The software can be deployed on Android-based devices and other open operating systems.
Subar said: ‘We are starting to see a whole ecosystem developing around secure mobiles. Before we were mostly working with the chip suppliers, but now we are working with the OEMs and mobile phone carriers.’
At the moment, OK Labs security IT software is added after devices leave the factory, but it will announce a deal with a Tier 1 OEM at the CTIA Wireless Show in Orlando, Florida in March to pre-load the software.
OK Labs launched its military grade SecureIT Mobile Government security solution last year, which provides encrypted voice and data. In 2011, it intends to extend this to enterprises with a new version to protect apps and content.
The new SecureIT Mobile Enterprise software is designed to provide secure access to enterprise assets and services, ensure user privacy and preserve intact the smartphone user experience on a single off-the-shelf smartphone or tablet.
‘There will be convergence here,’ said Subar. ‘Government organisations will want to run apps, while enterprises will want to encrypt voice and data. We provide the first layer of software, but it’s neutral –the enterprises can then add proprietary software and applications to suit themselves.’
Different options are available for enterprises to control security. Enterprises may want to run applications on Android, for example, and have the content and services running locally. Or the company’s services could be run in the cloud and information pushed to the employee’s device to be rendered on the smartphone or tablet. This does require a reliable, high speed connection, however.