September 25, 2012, 1:02 PM — Good Technology, a mobile security software company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is always looking for innovative new ways to make its enterprise and government products more secure, and also boost the security of its own systems and facilities.
So the company jumped all over the opportunity to become one of the first large enterprises to pilot the use of Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled smartphones for physical access to buildings and offices.
A few months ago, Good started working with physical-access reader and card-maker HID Global, as part of what HID is calling the "world's first NFC-enabled smartphone pilots in the enterprise." HID announced other high-profile NFC-based mobile-access pilots in the past, including one with Arizona State University. But the Good technology pilot, along with another similar pilot at Netflix headquarters, is one of the first enterprises using NFC in this way, according to HID.
First, Good Technology contracted San Jose's RFI Communications & Security Systems to install three new HID Global ThinLine II proximity readers on the second floor of Good's Sunnyvale office. The new readers are compatible with the low-frequency proximity-based ID badges Good currently uses, as well as the HID NFC credentials stored on the smartphones given to pilot participants. (HID wouldnt comment on the specific pricing of the readers, saying only that HID "sells through distributors [not direct], so [price] varies so greatly its difficult to provide even a general number&There is an incremental price difference [when compared to older-generation readers] as these new iCLASS SE readers are both software and field upgradeable.")
Good chose the popular Samsung Galaxy S III for its 10 pilot participants, one of whom was the company's Senior Product Marketing Manager for Secure Mobile Platforms, Chris Webber.
"The GSIII came out right around the same time as we went into the pilot, it had the NFC capabilities built in, it ran the applet that we needed from HID, and it's a cool new device," Weber says.
"We wanted to hit both sides: to have a desirable device for people that has a nice big screen; and also have something that was compatible with what HID was piloting. It was through talks with HID that we settled on that device because it had all the technological requirements and it also had the wow factor."
Samsung's Galaxy S III smartphone supports NFC, but due to security concerns, Good didn't use the device's built-in "Open NFC" functionality. Instead, it used "Secure NFC" microSD cards that support NFC in card-emulation mode, which enabled Good to securely store and emulate user credentials on the memory cards. (The NFC-enabled memory cards can still be used as external storage.)