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Android Devices More Secure With Split Personality

Security engineers in Germany propose a way to create separate personal and business areas on Android devices.

Thomas Claburn

October 11, 2011

2 Min Read

10 Companies Driving Mobile Security

10 Companies Driving Mobile Security


10 Companies Driving Mobile Security (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Security researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (SIT) and the Center for Advanced Security Research Darmstadt (CASED) have developed a way to mitigate the risk entailed by using personal smartphones for business.

The researchers have devised a method of partitioning Android devices into two separate areas: one for personal applications and one for business applications. In so doing, they hope to provide IT departments with a way to make personal devices more suitable for corporate settings without imposing restrictions that hinder non-business usage.

The software is called BizzTrust for Android and is being shown through Thursday, October 13, at the it-sa trade show in Nuremberg, Germany. AT&T and other tech companies are working on similar software.

The SIT/CASE security experts modified the Android operating system to mark data from trusted applications. This allows companies to identify corporate and non-corporate apps.

[ The consumerization of IT is here to stay. Find out why Cisco is embracing the trend. ]

BizzTrust has been designed to provide two protected areas for apps and data. The areas are distinguished by a different color schemes, red and green, and toggling back and forth between the two partitions takes only two taps.

Smartphones using the software can distinguish between business applications and personal applications and will store and protect data appropriately. IT departments thus don't have to worry that a personal application could expose data used by a business application. The system allows IT departments to manage business apps remotely, which may be necessary for security or policy reasons.

"Our development significantly improves the security of today's mobile terminals at no cost to user-friendliness," said Prof. Dr. Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, director of Cyber-Physical Systems Security at SIT/CASED, in a statement.

The researchers are in the process of integrating smartcards into their system to provide additional security. They are also developing partnerships with other companies to provide administrative tools for BizzTrust.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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