5 Things You Need to Know About Android Phones

Android phones are in high demand by workers, but they lack key security features. Here are the top five things you can do to make sure Android phones in your organization don’t create a security nightmare.

1. Use a service to secure data. Android’s open market and few security features open the door to hackers, leaving critical corporate data at risk. The best security comes from providers like Good Technology, which secures phones using its own network operations center, software on the phones, and a server behind a firewall. Technology like Good’s encrypts data as it travels to and from the device, and stored data is also encrypted. IT administrators are not required to open a hole in the corporate firewall.

2. Ask phone makers for help. Some manufacturers, including Motorola and Samsung, have developed little-marketed products and services for enterprises. Samsung, for instance, is developing a version of its TouchWiz software that will support advanced encryption standard security and VPN connections. Motorola recently acquired 3LM, a company developing software that resides on the phone and in a corporate server, to encrypt data travelling to and from the device and set up a VPN to corporate data. 3LM’s software is expected to be available on other Android phones, not just those made by Motorola.

3. Restrict users to models with better security. Motorola, for instance, has a line aimed at enterprise users—business-ready phones that include enhanced security features. The Droid Pro, for example, allows for remote wipe of SD cards, and comes with a VPN client and the ability to force users to create new passwords after a set time.

4. Wait for mobile virtual machine technology to mature. VMware is working on a mobile virtual machine that lets users toggle between two phone personas: one for corporate use and one for personal use. The company plans to also offer a management tool so IT departments can set policies for the corporate persona on the phone. So far, LG and Samsung say they hope to make phones capable of using the VMware tool. Other companies, like Open Kernel Labs, are offering tools that let developers build applications that can run inside a virtual machine, isolating them from threats.

5. Use a management tool that enforces basic security. Sybase, BoxTone, Zenprise, Mobile Iron and Fiberlink are among the many companies offering mobile device management—and in some cases, additional mobile security—products and services. Even a basic mobile device management product will at the very least help IT administrators enforce policies like a password requirement and remotely erase important corporate data if a device is lost or stolen.

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