Avocent Toughens Mobile Device Security

Avocent is set to announce Mobile Sentinel 2.0, the second generation of its software to help IT administrators centrally manage mobile devices.

Despite the growing threat of unmanaged mobile devices, few enterprises are heeding the warning.

Forrester Research Inc. recently reported that only 9 percent of companies surveyed had implemented mobile management tools. The report encourages enterprises to form policies governing mobile device use and to adopt technologies to help enforce those policies.

One provider of such technology, Avocent Corp., which in September acquired mobility management software maker Sonic Mobility Inc., will announce this week at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment Expo in San Francisco, Mobile Sentinel 2.0, the second generation of its software to help IT administrators centrally manage mobile devices.

Mobile Sentinel 2.0, due this quarter, will let administrators view real-time information about employee devices, such as battery levels, connectivity and installed software. Administrators will be able to set up alerts that will notify them if, for example, a specific device has been offline for a predefined period of time. Administrators will then be able to respond by sending real-time commands over the air to lock or shut down the device or, in cases of theft or loss, delete sensitive data on the devices memory.

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Mobile Sentinel also will allow administrators to enforce password policies by locking devices or configuring pop-up reminders to appear until users set up passwords. "More than 80 percent of end users will not put a password on their device because they find it an inconvenience—even if its corporate policy," said Derek Ball, director of business development for mobile solutions at Avocent, in Calgary, Alberta.

In addition, Version 2.0 will support PalmOne Inc.s Treo devices in addition to Microsoft Corp.s Pocket PC Phone Edition-based devices and Research In Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry devices. And it will gain application blacklisting capabilities, allowing administrators to remotely restrict which applications users can install.

Version 2.0 will also give IT administrators the ability to remotely wipe out memory expansion cards in addition to the devices themselves. And, with the new software, administrators will be able to selectively delete certain information, such as e-mail or PIN data, instead of having to wipe out the entire memory.

Avocent tweaked the user interface to handle a larger number of devices. It will be able to support as many as 10,000 devices, said Ball.

The product may help companies that are implementing security guidelines governing employee use of mobile devices. Outsource Marketing LLC is finding that its clients—often Fortune 500 companies—are requiring proof that their data will be secure, according to Patrick Byers, president of the Seattle company. "A couple of our clients have actually pushed us to do this; it makes complete sense, but it just flies under the radar," said Byers. "Its just as important as good accounting or good HR."

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