Symantec extends device encryption to iOS

In recognition of the growing popularity of Apple devices as a business tool for enterprise users, Symantec Corp. has extended its encryption technology to the iOS platform, in addition to already covering BlackBerry and Windows Mobile operating systems.

The new capability, PGP Viewer for iOS, offered by the Cupertino, Calif.-based vendor is part of wanting to respond to the different ways encryption is needed by the enterprise as new technologies surface, said Brian Tokuyoshi, senior product marketing manager with Symantec (SYMC).

PGP Viewer for iOS encrypts e-mail on the device as well as all places in between whether that’s with a cloud-hosted mail provider or even in the customer’s own data centre, said Tokuyoshi.

“Now, we’re rounding out the enterprise mobile stack with iOS,” said Tokuyoshi.

Another driver behind the iOS encryption is that workers are becoming increasingly mobile and are choosing to bring personal devices to the workplace. The preference by many employees to use personal devices for business is a natural progression from the trend that is to “bring all aspects of their digital life onto that phone,” said Tokuyoshi.

The extension of its encryption technology to iOS devices is accompanied by a new version of the company’s Endpoint Encryption Full Disk Edition, which includes new security management capabilities for IT departments.

“Everyone thinks encryption clients are the hard part,” said Tokuyoshi. “It’s really management of keys that’s the real big challenge behind encryption.”

Specifically, the new version has new features for better visibility into Opal-compliant, self-encrypting hard drives in hybrid environments where IT admins must deal with both hardware and software-based encryption technologies.

Tokuyoshi said the increasing number of mobile workers means customers must be able to protect hard drives in devices out in the field, an endeavour not always feasible given the device would have to brought into the office, copied and then returned to the user.

Michelle Warren, analyst and principal of Toronto-based MW Research & Consulting, said Symantec is addressing a key area of the market by choosing to offer its encryption technology to the popular iOS platform.

Warren said iOS devices are also on the radar for hackers as the number of security threats will increase in relation to the number of devices that users are bringing to the business arena.

“Apple users might claim that their devices are impenetrable, but nothing is impenetrable,” said Warren. “And, if corporate data is the goal, and an iOS device is the way in, a way will be found.”

Although Symantec is recognizing the need to extend encryption to iOS, the same doesn’t yet hold for Android. Tokuyoshi said that while there is interest for Android devices in the enterprise, it hasn’t reached the boiling point just yet.

“The consumerization driven aspect of IT … is taking the initial thrust through iOS. I’m not sure that Android devices have reached that same level of fervor yet,” said Tokuyoshi.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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