Symantec mobile management rolls out more robust MDM blueprint

BYOD might not save enterprises money, and the pendulum may be swinging back in favor of a more corporate-sanctioned environment, but as the workforce becomes younger it's going to be harder and harder for enterprises to put up a strategic roadblock preventing users who want to use their own mobile device at work. That means having a mobility blueprint that is part and parcel of the overall business strategy.

BYOD might not save enterprises money, and the pendulum may be swinging back in favor of a more corporate-sanctioned environment, but as the workforce becomes younger it's going to be harder and harder for enterprises to put up a strategic roadblock preventing users who want to use their own mobile device at work. 

That means having a mobility blueprint that is part and parcel of the overall business strategy. And that means having the tools to securely support BYOD if need be. To that end, it's worth noting that Symantec rolled out a slew of significant updates to its mobile portfolio this week. 

What's New?

Symantec Mobile Security is now available for Android devices, Symantec Mobile Management for Configuration Manager is now available, Symantec Mobile Management now provides a secure email solution for Android devices with Nitrodesk Touchdown integration, Nukona App Center is now available for iOS devices, Symantec PGP Viewer for Android now extends email encryption to Android devices, and finally Symantec Mobile Management suite is available for the Windows 7 Phone platform.

The most significant of these updates to Symantec's suite of enterprise mobility tools will all benefit Android phones, which will now have a third-party e-mail client, Nitrodesk Touchdown, integration built-in. As an extra security precaution, Symantec PGP Viewer for Android now extends e-mail encryption to devices as well.

Android's malware issues have been well-documented over time and Google's Bouncer, which was supposed to alleviate those issues, hasn't been that effective. Some reports suggest there's been a 400% increase in Android malware over the last few months alone. I'm typically skeptical of these kinds of surveys, but the larger truth is Android does have issues with compromised apps. All it takes is one download to possibly corrupt the phone and network it's on.

Symantec's new mobile anti-malware client has an engine to scan all the apps that are uploaded to the various Android app stores (Google Play, Amazon, etc.) within 24 hours. That information is then passed to the Android device with the Symantec Mobile Security app installed and can alert uses when they attempt to download a corrupted app. 

The other two features that seem promising are product integration from the recent acquisitions of Nukona, a mobile application management company, and Odyssey Software, whose Athena software is now Symantec Mobile Management for Configuration Manager.

The Nukona integration, which was previously only available on Android devices, is now available for iOS devices. Nukona App Center provides secure application and content management through app wrapping and now supports apps created with third-party app frameworks, such as Appcelerator and PhoneGap. As for the Odyssey component, it might be the most beneficial to IT. Essentially, IT can incorporate MDM into Systems Center to manage all their devices from the same place. 

The Right Approach

Obviously, that's a lot of new announcements and capabilities. Symantec said their goal is to offer threat protection, MDM, MAM, and corporate identity integration for iOS, Android and eventually Windows Phone. Aside from possibly network access control and some kind of data or information management, that's a pretty complete mobile security picture. 

Currently, Symantec's mobile portfolio is available as separate products, but they do have plans to bundle them together for businesses that haven't already begun to add mobile security pieces to their infrastructure. Keeping them separate allows organizations to supplement its existing MDM tool with MAM or threat protection from Symantec, the company said. 

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