MWC 2013: Securing Mobile Business

The overwhelming majority of businesses today are encouraging employees to adopt “mobile” working practices, meaning that work can be done wherever, whenever and from whatever device – smartphone, tablet or laptop. This flexibility increases employees’ involvement and labor efficiency, but it also creates fundamentally new threats to business: securing smartphones is far more difficult than securing desktop computers. Mobile Device Management (MDM) has been one of the hottest topics at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. To promote this discussion, Kaspersky Lab arranged a panel discussion, at which it presented its MDM solution.

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Mobile security is demanding more and more attention from corporate IT directors. According to a Gartner survey in 2012, smartphones and tablets have skyrocketed to second place on the list of strategically important technologies, up from sixth place in 2011. The situation has fundamentally changed over the past five years – today we see a vast range of smartphones, and they are owned by employees rather than handed out to senior staff as business perks. Once, a corporate issue BlackBerry smartphone was a status symbol, but that time is gone. People prefer other brands and other operating systems, and expect to be able to use their preferred device to combine business and personal use, in and out of the office. Companies are coming on board with this trend, adopting bring your own device (BYOD) policies. According to Gartner’s Phillip Redman, by 2014 more than 90% of companies are expected to have work applications installed on employees’ personal smartphones.

Not surprisingly, then, managing this vast range of diverse mobile devices running under various operating systems becomes a real headache for IT specialists, especially given the limited administration capabilities typically available in the devices themselves.  “On BlackBerry, you could selectively disable each of over a hundred of features and capabilities, such as the camera or social networking,” continues Philip Redman. “However, the MDM functionalities available in iPhone are much more limited.” iPhone dominates in corporate environments; however, Android is catching up rapidly, and is expected to surpass the iPhone in corporate environments at some point this year, just as it has in the retail market.

This is where an extra factor – malware – kicks in. Android, the most popular mobile operating system, accounts for over 95% of malware, as reported by Kaspersky Lab’s Denis Maslennikov. Malicious applications often steal data; cases have been reported when selected data was deliberately stolen rather being than randomly taken. Thus, the smartphone becomes a weak point through which massive attacks can be orchestrated against businesses. Other, more commonplace hazards can also pose a threat to corporate data stored in smartphones: a smartphone can be lost or stolen, or an employee can copy confidential corporate data from it at home. All of this leads to uncontrolled data leaks.

Android, the most popular mobile operating system, accounts for over 95% of malware, as reported by Kaspersky Lab’s Denis Maslennikov. Malicious applications often steal data; cases have been reported when selected data was deliberately stolen rather being than randomly taken.

To deal with all these problems at one fell swoop, Kaspersky Lab presented its corporate product – Kaspersky Security for Mobile – at the Barcelona event. This MDM solution has been developed entirely from Kaspersky Lab’s own expertise. It offers a comprehensive solution for the problems associated with using mobile devices in corporate environments. Its main feature is that all corporate and work-related information is stored in a dedicated encrypted, password-protected container. Thus, personal and work-related information are completely isolated from each other. The corporate IT administrator can remotely manage the smartphone, even deleting proprietary data from it if necessary. This feature could be useful in several situations, from a lost smartphone to that of a dismissed employee. Last but not least, the application incorporates protection against malware, phishing sites and other online dangers. Detailed information about Kaspersky Security for Mobile is available at Kaspersky Lab.

We asked Konstantin Voronkov, Head of Product Management, B2B Mobile Solutions at Kaspersky Lab, to tell us what makes this MDM solution different from similar solutions available on the market. As Konstantin explained, all the current products fall into two categories. One is dedicated MD solutions designed to secure the smartphone by itself, so the owner has to purchase separate products to protect laptops, virtual environments etc. The other is comprehensive solutions where Kaspersky Lab’s product belongs. Kaspersky Lab’s product has been completely developed within the company, rather than purchased from another vendor. Hence, it is better, more organically integrated with Kaspersky Lab’s other products: it can be managed from the Kaspersky management console, it generates reports in a standard format, and so on. This makes it easier to implement, easier to use, and, ultimately, cheaper to run.

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