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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.
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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.

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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.