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Between a rock and a hard place: Mobile security

27 Dec 2012

Change creates opportunities for risk and reward. Peter Lee, Sophos ANZ enterprise sales engineer, Sophos ANZ looks at mobile security opportunities.

Remember the days before the mobility revolution? It was a simpler time when concert-goers pumped the air with their fists instead of their smartphones, when ‘angry birds’ was the world’s shortest Hitchcock review, and people still bought netbooks.

New platforms, social media and cloud services have radically altered the information technology landscape – and there’s more to come.

The risk

When mobile devices could only handle phone calls and text messages, the impact of a lost or stolen device was limited to the cost and inconvenience of replacement hardware and account cancellation.

Today smartphones and tablets can merge an individual’s private and professional identities. One device holds your personal email, social media accounts, work email and documents – even your online banking details.

The impact therefore of a smartphone or tablet falling into the wrong hands could be severe and, given the potential for sensitive corporate material to be extracted from the device, it could extend beyond the device owner.

The risk increases on Android devices. A conservative estimate is that there are at least 20,000 malicious apps in the official Android app store.

These apps will try to send premium-rate text messages, steal social media credentials and aggressively bombard the owner with dubious ads.

The unofficial Android app stores are even more riddled with malicious apps, which creates further headaches for organisations wishing to support the use of Android devices in a corporate environment.

The solution

The last few years have seen a massive demand from a wide range of organisations for solutions to help mitigate these risks. Vendors are meeting that demand with mobile device management solutions, mobile encryption solutions for iOS and mobile security solutions for Android.

For resellers and systems integrators, however, the mobile security market can present significant challenges and limited opportunities.

They feel squeezed between the official app stores and the OEM arrangements security vendors are entering into with phone companies and ISP’s. If margins are tight and technical expertise costs money – is there a slice of the mobile security pie for the channel?

Relationship is just as important in MDM procurement as it is in any other purchasing decision. Most customers will extend trusted security advisor status to the mobile platform, and will be looking for assistance when designing and implementing their MDM solution.

Choosing a vendor who is committed to delivering their solutions via a strong and effective channel programme, while supporting their channel partners throughout the sales process, is critical.

So too is equipping your organisation to map your solutions to the customer’s requirements.