Symantec Unveils Mobile Security Plans for Android, Apple iOS

Symantec plans to dive deeper into the mobile security market with new capabilities for enterprises and communication service providers.

Symantec is talking up its mobile security plans.

As part of a push across its consumer and enterprise portfolio, Symantec is adding support for Google Android and Apple iOS - the operating system for the iPhone and iPad - as well as an upcoming solution aimed at communication service providers.

The focus is on helping organizations address the challenges around securing mobile devices as the products proliferate through enterprises. According to a report from IDC, vendors shipped 55 percent more mobile device shipments in the first half of 2010 than they did during the first six months of 2009, with Android and iOS-based devices having close to one-third of the market for the year.

For enterprises, the heterogeneity of the mobile market is part of the challenges they face, explained Piero DePaoli, director of product marketing for the core security group at Symantec.

"The growth of iPhone and Android has turned this into a market that really has five very strong players," he said. "That means to the enterprises that it is very difficult to standardize on one platform, and then when you do allow all five of those major operating systems to work within your company, it's near impossible to keep up with all of the changes for all of those different operating systems."

"With all those different mobile operating systems, it becomes super important for the IT manager to have a single place to be able to manage all of them," he said, adding Symantec offers organizations the ability to do that.

The extended support for Android and iOS builds on Symantec's previous support for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices in Symantec Mobile Management 7.0. On the consumer side, the company has Norton Mobile Security for Android still in beta, but it is expected to be generally available in the coming months.

The main challenges facing IT when it comes to mobile security tend to revolve around management, analysts told eWEEK. For Symantec, addressing that has meant building in new features such as remote wipe, password policy enforcement and device inventory.

"Through some of the acquisitions that we've made this year we've also been able to get some more mobile capabilities," DePaoli said. "Through our acquisitions of GuardianEdge and PGP, we have a mobile encryption offering for some of the mobile platforms, and through our acquisitions of VeriSign we now have a two-factor authentication system that can be used on a mobile phone in place of a token that's called the VeriSign Identity Protection, or VIP service. Then lastly we will also have the ability to do device certificates for authentication."

Communication service providers are being targeted as well with a service that will give them the ability to put software on the edge of their network that allows all of their traffic to be scanned for malware and spam. The service, which is slated to be available this winter, will also include Web content control functionality.

"We have an upcoming offering that will allow the communication service provider to have a cloud-based, device-agnostic mobile security solution that they can provide to their enterprise customers which would give their enterprise customers a higher quality of experience and more security," DePaoli said.

"Symantec's mission is to secure people and information through identity, protection and context, and our broad approach to mobile security and management is a key extension of protection for all of our customers," said Francis deSouza, senior vice president of the Enterprise Security Group at Symantec, in a statement. "By providing mobile security and management for smart devices, we're making it easier for enterprises to allow their employees to use their device of choice without putting corporate data at risk."