Product Group Tests

Portable devices (2009)

Group Summary

Our Best Buy this month is Trend Micro Mobile Security 5.1, providing everything we were looking for in a portable security solution.

Our Recommended award goes to: DeviceLock 6.4 for ease of use, documentation and excellent support.

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Full Group Summary

Locations of sensitive data become more ubiquitous with portable devices. By Michael Lipinski.

Mobile phones, PDAs, smartphones, BlackBerry devices all have one thing in common: they do far more than make phone calls. We live in a 'connected' world today and our personal communication devices are our lifelines. We make calls, exchange multimedia messages, surf the web, email, download music, edit a document, spreadsheet or presentation, store information or pay bills.

A few months ago we reviewed endpoint security and discussed the risks and challenges of securing mobile devices and media. Your corporate or personal information resides on mobile PCs or USB drives. There is open access to your data over wireless networks and/or Bluetooth. The challenge we face in this month's review is much the same. As our technologies continue to expand to meet the challenges of component integration and data sharing, as the mobile work forces continue to grow, and more and more people access corporate resources over unsecured public networks, the challenge comes in controlling what data should be allowed to be on those endpoints or mobile devices and, when allowed, securing that data while at rest and in transit.

Now, for this review, we add on top of that, a device, such as your mobile phone that you take to events, family picnics, the bar after work, leave lying around on your desk or leave sitting in your car to charge. The same device may have additional wireless access via Bluetooth and standard 802.11 capabilities, and in most cases, will be in an always-on state.

There is no doubt that the benefits of having email, data exchange, data storage and various network access options available on our portable devices provides substantial productivity, efficiency and customer service advantages. To be effective, portable device security must balance the security risk with the productivity benefits. The right solution must also address the IT challenges we all face today, mainly over burdened and under staffed IT departments. The right solution should deploy easily, provide centralised policy management and centralised reporting and tuneable alerting.

In this month's issue we review portable device security solutions. Products in this review group will deal with not only a collapsing perimeter but also consumer-owned/controlled devices being used to get at corporate resources. The criteria for the submissions focused on solutions that were centrally managed and intended for an enterprise environment, provided some form of encryption and included some form of security for portable devices such as a PDA, smartphone, iPhone or BlackBerry. As always, we were interested in the solution's ability to provide management, reporting and event notification/alerting.

The products reviewed covered several security categories including firewall, anti-virus, encryption and device lock out. Some products treated the portable device like any other USB or Bluetooth attached device and managed security at the port level. Others provided various levels of security for the actual mobile device. Some supported just Windows Mobile while others provided support for multiple platforms such as Symbian, RIM/BlackBerry, Open OS/Android and Windows Mobile.

The solutions we reviewed varied greatly in their support for various mobile platforms and depth of offering. Some of the products focused on providing a lock out feature for the mobile device, others provided the encryption for either the communications with the device and/or the data stored on the device, still others delivered a solution that included things such as firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, software update management, theft protection, remote wipe, and various encryption and lock out features. We did find a few solutions that provided a very comprehensive set of capabilities while others focused on one area of protection, while providing integration with solutions that delivered the rest.

Some of the products installed as a standalone application on either a PC or server. Others were modules or part of an enterprise management solution. We focused on the server side management, reporting and alerting along with the products ability to integrate with various directory structures for set up, agent/client deployments and management of the environment.

We were pleased with all the products we tested. All were mature, installed easily and in most cases, were easy to use. Features and functionality varied across all products reviewed. When choosing the right product for your personal or corporate use, it is important to understand the needs you are trying to address before evaluating technology to support those needs.

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