Bridging OS gap for smartphone security

John C. Tanner
Telecom Asia

Smartphones may be driving uptake and usage wireless broadband services to epic levels, but they also create a dilemma in the security space. Smartphone users are accessing and storing more and more sensitive personal data and are increasingly being targeted by malware, spyware and other threats.

That's one reason enterprises don't like it when employees use them to access the company LAN. But according to a survey from KRC Research and Juniper Networks, more than 80% of smartphone users do just that, and without permission. Device management would be an option for telcos and IT managers if it wasn't for the fragmented OS landscape they'd have to manage.

Juniper Networks has launched an over-the-top smartphone security solution that not only addresses all those problems, but also potentially enables operators to monetize security services, from data back-up and parental controls to GPS tracking and enterprise mobility.

The Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite - which builds on the company's existing SSL VPN solution - is designed to cover three major threat vectors: devices, the network and applications. The solution includes a Pulse client for the handset that connects to the Pulse service over the network. New features include anti-virus, personal firewall, monitoring and control services, anti-spam, loss and theft prevention, as well as remote back-up, remote restore, and the ability to track devices that are lost or stolen using GPS. 
  
OTT solution

Notably, the Pulse mobile security offering works across most major OS platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile. It doesn't yet support Apple's iOS (although iOS is supported on the SSL VPN solution), but Juniper says iOS will be supported in the first half of 2011.  

Backing up the Junos Pulse service is a new Juniper Global Threat Center based in the US dedicated to tracking and responding to detected threats to mobile devices that will enable its mobile security offering to stay updated on the latest malware and spyware. 

Mark Bauhaus, EVP and GM for the service layer technologies business group at Juniper Networks, says the mobile security offering can enable mobile operators to monetize security solutions to consumers, including virus protection, remote back-up and parental control solutions, more easily because the security platform is "an over-the-top solution that doesn't require any extra network reconfigurations apart from enabling billing capabilities in the backend." 

It also enables mobile operators to target enterprises with corporate mobility solutions - a sector that many Asian cellcos have wanted to target for some time, says Sanjay Beri, VP and GM of Juniper's access business unit.

"The operators we talk to in APAC recognized where the mobile data market was going years ago," he told Telecom Asia. "They want to offer a 'mobile office' service, which requires these kinds of VPN and security capabilities."

Beri adds that support for multiple OSs will be a critical selling point for enterprise customers.

"It's hard for IT managers to manage so many different devices running a half-dozen or more separate operating systems," Beri says. "It's more compelling for a carrier to come in and say, 'You can use this to manage all those devices and they don't even have to all be on our network', because it's a hard sell if your sales pitch requires everyone in the office to sign up with that service provider."

Commentary

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