March 02, 2012, 1:29 PM — Managing and securing the world of mobile computing is an evolving art, as a quartet of vendors showed at Mobile World Congress, each taking different approaches to the challenge.
Fixmo, Kindsight, ManageEngine and Symantec are creating new, or improving current, products to manage enterprise mobility, ranging from the device and its operating system, the data and apps it runs, to the networks it connects through.
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Fixmo, founded in 2009, acquired technology originally developed by the National Security Agency (through the NSA's Technology Transfer Program). The NSA code was intended to actively monitor mobile devices and their operating system, and detect any changes in their state that would indicate they'd been compromised.
"How do you know, on an ongoing basis, that the device continues to be in compliance with your [enterprise] policies?" says Tyler Lessard, chief marketing officer for Fixmo, of Toronto. "We do this, by comparing real-time data about the device state to enterprise policies."
The first product in the company's offerings, commercializing the NSA technology, was Fixmo Sentinel, an application for managing mobile risk. More recently, the company added a second product, Fixmo SafeZone, which Lessard describes as a "sandbox for iOS and Android, keeping all corporate apps and data in a separate, encrypted workspace on the device."
At Mobile World Congress this week, the company announced it has merged the two formerly stand-alone products, with a common console that lets IT managers work across both.
Now, when Sentinel detects a change of state or some other indication of compromised security, it can alert SafeZone, which then locks down the container. Users can't access apps or data in the corporate safe zone on their smartphone or tablet, until the problem is fixed.
In addition, Sentinel's policy engine can now factor in location. If a device roams outside of a country, or connects to an unsecure Wi-Fi net, Sentinel can take actions such as turning off the camera or locking down data in the corporate safe zone on the device. When the device reconnects later at the corporate office or on a recognized secure network, it frees up access by the user.