IBM announced a new managed service to help IT administrators manage and support all the personal mobile devices being used by employees.
With IBM's Hosted Mobile Device Security Management service, IT departments can ensure personal phones and tablets comply with corporate security policies, protect them from malware infections, track user activity and secure connections to the network, IBM said Nov. 11. The service would cover devices running Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Nokia's Symbian and Microsoft's Windows Mobile, according to IBM.
"The new service from IBM helps organizations protect their enterprise data while allowing employees to have the flexibility needed for today's work environment," said Marisa Viveros, vice president of IBM Security Services.
The growing "bring your own device" trend means IT departments are increasingly being asked to support any device the employee wants to use to access corporate email, documents and applications, regardless of what platform is officially supported by the company.
"The BYOD trend creates real opportunity for employees to become more productive, but it also carries risk unless it is managed properly," said Viveros.
A recentDell Kace survey of 750 IT managers found that 87 percent of companies have employees using some kind of personal device accessing a corporate network. "No single device is used dramatically more than others, meaning that IT must be aware of a wide range of operating systems and devices that connect to their systems," Dell KACE researchers wrote in the report. The same survey found that 62 percent of IT administrators felt they don't have the tools to properly manage them all.
With more and more personal devices in the enterprise, the IT department no longer has the power to veto what employees use to access corporate resources and data, Stephanie Balaouras, principal analyst and research director at Forrester Research, said at a recent IBM press event. Instead of being a "Department of No," and blocking devices, IT now has to be the "Department of Yes," and find ways to keep data secure, Balaouras said.
With more information than ever being stored on mobile devices, cyber-attackers are also beginning to pay attention to the platform. A recent IBM X-Force study projected that the number of software weaknesses that can give a criminal access to data on a phone or tablet will double this year from 2010. IBM X-Force tracked 15 exploits last year and expects to see more than 30 this year.
The new hosted mobile-device service would help organizations protect against and monitor data loss and other risks caused by device theft, unauthorized access, malware, spyware and malicious applications, IBM said. Businesses would have access to risk-management features such as being able to secure data in the event that the phone or tablet is lost or stolen, track the missing device, and detect and remove malicious and unapproved applications. IBM will also have a policy feature where IT departments can list their own requirements and monitor user compliance.
Big Blue is working with Juniper Networks to provide the protection and device management technology through the Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite. The service will provide a self-cleaning feature that protects devices from dangerous applications by deleting them from the server.