IBM Rolls Out Endpoint Manager to Secure Mobile Devices, Laptops

With the Endpoint Manager, IBM is offering organizations a single platform capable of securing desktops, laptops and mobile devices in the enterprise, regardless of who owns it.

IBM is beefing up its mobile credentials to help organizations manage the influx of mobile devices into the enterprises as part of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.

IBM rolled out an endpoint manager for mobile devices running Apple iOS, Google Android, Nokia Symbian, and Microsoft Windows Mobile and Windows Phone mobile platforms, the company said Jan. 31. Interestingly enough, IBM omitted Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform from its mobile software.

IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices helps organizations manage and secure the rapidly expanding number of mobile devices that are being brought to the corporate offices and being used to connect to company networks and access corporate data, IBM said. The software provides organizations with a single platform to secure and manage all endpoints, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktop PCs and servers.

"The new offering from IBM will help organizations manage personal and enterprise-owned mobile phones and tablets across IT networks in order to minimize risk, increase productivity and enhance innovation," said Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Mobile Platform.

Endpoint Manager extends the capabilities that IBM gained as part of its Big Fix acquisition in 2010. Big Fix software was designed to manage and secure servers, desktops, roaming laptops and point-of-sale devices. The new Endpoint Manager extends the Big Fix features to the mobile platform, according to IBM.

With Endpoint Manager, organizations can selectively wipe data from devices when lost or stolen, as well as enforce passcode policies and the use of encryption on these devices. The software can also be configured to require employees to use a VPN when accessing the enterprise network.

IT administrators will be able to install the IBM software relatively quickly and begin remotely setting policies, identifying potential data compromises and wiping data off the devices, IBM said.

Both employee-owned and personal devices can be secured by a single platform that uses a combination of email-based and agent-based management tools. IT staff will be able to identify devices that are not complying with corporate policies and take appropriate action, such as denying email access or by issuing notifications to the user device as a reminder on what remedial steps need to be performed, according to IBM.

Organizations need mobile security and management policies in place to take advantage of the BYOD trend, according to Sutor.

A number of security companies are rolling out new products to make remote wipes and endpoint management easier for mobile devices. In Cisco's second annual "Connected World Technology Report" released last November, more than half of young professionals and college students said they'd rather lose their wallets or purses before losing their mobile devices.

McAfee just updated itsMobile Security software on Jan. 30 with new capabilities to protect mobile devices from Web threats as well as from data leakage in case of loss or theft.

In a separate announcement, IBM acquired private company Worklight, an Israeli company that makes smartphone and tablet software. The acquisition is part of IBM's push into the mobile space and will "advance" IBM's portfolio by providing clients with an open platform that will speed up application delivery to multiple mobile devices. Watchlight will also securely connect smartphone and tablet applications with enterprise IT systems.