Security Experts:

Symantec Unifies Mobile Management Suite, Launches Developer Program

Symantec is unifying the bewildering array of mobile device, application, and security related tools under one umbrella in its new Mobile Management Suite.

Symantec LogoThe platform combines mobile device management, mobile application management, and mobile security, Symantec said Tuesday. The new suite can be deployed on a per-user basis and supports the latest versions of the major mobile platforms, including iOS 6, Android 4.1 and Windows Phone 7.5. The new pricing and licensing model will make it easier for enterprises to regain control over the rising costs of user mobility, Symantec said.

Most enterprises have multiple mobility initiatives, such as focusing on mobile email, mobile apps, and others on mobile content. Some enterprises are looking for complete management of all devices, and others may just want to control the apps on the device, Brian Duckering, senior mobile strategist at Symantec, wrote on the Symantec blog. The "ideal enterprise mobility solution should address diverse use cases and ownership models," Duckering said, which is where the Mobile Management Suite comes in.

Symantec Mobile Management Suite consists of three distinct product offerings covering mobile device management, application management, and threat protection, Duckering said. It can be deployed as a standalone platform, integrated with Symantec Endpoint Management, or deployed into Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager environments. There are new features such as application blacklisting, email access control and compliance management, the company said.

“By consolidating our portfolio into one suite that is priced per user, not by device, we help IT organizations increase employee mobility and productivity without compromising protection with a straightforward, predictable deployment model," Anik Chakravarthy, senior vice president of the Enterprise Security Group at Symantec, said in a statement. The new licensing model takes into account the fact that employee may have two or three devices the organization has to manage, added Chakravarthy.

While simplifying the product offering, Symantec at the same time is expanding its focus on mobile device security with a new program to encourage developers to build secure apps. The Symantec App Center Ready program will provide a software developer kit to help developers embed Symantec's security technologies into an app, such as requiring users to log in, enforced encryption, data loss prevention, app distribution and revocation, Symantec said. The SDK would allow developers to build security controls into their applications without modifying the original source code.

"Symantec App Center Ready libraries readily add enterprise grade security and management features to apps," Duckering explained.

Security features include authentication with LDAP, SAML systems, encryption of data at rest with FIPS 140-2 algorithms, restricting the ability to copy-paste data within an application, remote over-the-air management, and forwarding contents of the app to other sites.

Companies that use Symantec App Center already can take advantage of the SDK to build secure applications and deploy them across both iOS and Android platforms. The App Center is based on Symantec's acquisition of Nukona earlier this year. After using App Center, developers can list the apps in the App Center Ready catalogue, which lists all apps certified as trusted by Symantec

"Mobile application developers in the program can accelerate adoption by addressing concerns around information security," Duckering wrote. Symantec plans to offer a Managed PKI App for Android to transparently issue digital certificates to Android phones and tablets and make it easier to manage them by the end of the year. The upcoming platform would make it possible to automate certificate enrolment, updates and revocation, and lower management costs, Symantec said.

The company also announced the Mobility Solution Specialization Program to train channel partners on Symantec products and added new licensing options to its Mobile Management Suite.

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Fahmida Y. Rashid is a Senior Contributing Writer for SecurityWeek. She has experience writing and reviewing security, core Internet infrastructure, open source, networking, and storage. Before setting out her journalism shingle, she spent nine years as a help-desk technician, software and Web application developer, network administrator, and technology consultant.