Big Blue aims to take complexity out of ensuring that employees' personal smartphones and tablets conform to corporate policies.
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IBM said Friday it will introduce a service designed to help companies make sure that the myriad devices employees are now bringing into the office--from smartphones to tablets--are secure and protected from threats like malware and data theft.
"A lot of enterprises are embracing employees bringing their own devices but that presents a lot of challenges from a security perspective," said Latha Maripuri, director of IBM security services, in an interview. "A lot of these devices carry business data; how do you protect that?"
To answer that question, IBM hopes companies will turn to its new Hosted Mobile Device Security Management service. The cloud-based offering uses technology developed by Juniper Networks to give IT security staff the ability to monitor employee devices and respond to problems such as a lost smartphone.
Through a portal, administrators can remotely locate and wipe devices, install antivirus and antimalware software, and enforce corporate policies relating to passwords and other security measures. "Even though they are employee-owned, companies need to protect these devices just as they do legacy systems like PCs and laptops," said Maripuri.
The service will work for any device that runs Apple iOS, Symbian, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry OS, or Microsoft Windows Mobile or Windows Phone operating systems. For implementation, employees need to download software that registers their device onto the service. Pricing ranges from $3 to $10 per device, per month, depending on the number of devices being managed.
IBM is launching the service at a time when an increasing number of companies are allowing employees to choose their own mobile device, rather than issuing them a standard system, under a trend that's been dubbed consumerization of IT or "bring your own device" (BYOD).
IBM itself is now letting its workers ditch their BlackBerrys in favor of an iPhone or Android smartphone. "They want the newest toy and want to come in and connect," said Maripuri. "It's an issue that we've had to face and many CIOs across the globe are facing."
The service uses Juniper Networks' Junos Pulse Mobility Security Suite as a technology foundation and layers on IBM monitoring and management services. Availability begins Nov. 22nd, according to Maripuri.
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