Mobile Enterprise Security Rise Of The Android

Until recently, most people recognized the iPhone as the smartphone. For quite a while, this was true, but this fact is rapidly changing. Android is not just a phone, but it is a complete smartphone ecosystem that encompasses smartphones, tablets and thin client devices. It is also open source, one of the reasons for its phenomenal success.

Most home users may still use windows, but above the user level, Linux dominates server farms, web servers, and other high-level applications. This is the enterprise realm and Android is poised for success in this environment. The only real competition is Blackberry, which is mainly because of the legacy of Blackberry’s prior success. With Android maturing, the enterprise will no doubt be looking to incorporate it into their technology profile.

The Good and the Bad

This is where the promises and threats begin; one can easily imagine a chain of restaurants adopting Android tablets in lieu of order pads to increase efficiency and service. It is just as easy to imagine a cyber criminal hacking into one of them to install a malicious app to steal receipts-receipts that may include a credit card number or other personally identifying information.

A major corporation would be well served by adopting Android tablets and smartphones for its staff. Being open source, the cost would be low and the companies could customize the platform to their needs. However, a single compromised smartphone stealing data, or destroying vital services could wreak havoc within the companys networking. As Android expands its sphere of influence, so the potential threats will grow.

IT Rises to the Challenge

The first and biggest challenge is the lost phone. If a smartphone is lost or stolen, the data contained on it must be considered compromised. If a businessperson uses that phone, then valuable information can be at risk. Data Loss Prevention, or DLP is one of the terms used to refer to this syndrome, and major security providers have already fielded a number of solutions. GPS can be leveraged to trace a lost or stolen smartphone, and in the event of a theft, the unit can be remotely locked to prevent access. In extreme cases, the unit can be wiped remotely. If a thief attempts to replace the SIM card in order to gain access to the device, there are methods that will alert the user or IT manager to the situation.

Looking to the Future

While hardware is commodity, and software is replaceable, data, on the other hand, is more than valuable and always at risk. The future of enterprise IT will include Android, and this means that security will be a major industry; it is already, but for the mobile market, it is only just beginning.

Look to see server level Android management systems to consolidate all Android devices in the enterprise and managed security solutions that include everything from content filtering to anti-virus and DLP. Many enterprises are already allowing employees to use their own smartphones and attach them to the network with the installation of the company’s security software. There will of course be privacy issues but the promise of this new ecosystem is too great to be ignored.

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