Insecure Android a myth, Motorola exec says

Motorola's enterprise GM says security tools will convince CIOs that Android can be trusted

It's a myth that Android isn't secure and is difficult for IT managers to control, contended a top Motorola Mobile executive in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show.

LAS VEGAS -- It's a myth that Android isn't secure and is difficult for IT managers to control, a Motorola Mobile executive said in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

Christy Wyatt , general manager of Motorola's recently-created enterprise business unit, said the company has recently started licensing security and management tools designed to bring virtual private networks, encryption and other protections to the Android platform to make it secure.

Motorola gained the security technology with its acquisition of 3LM, a maker of Android security and device management tools last year.

Other makers of Android-based devices, such as HTC and Sony, have struck agreements with Motorola to license the 3LM software, which will make Android more amenable to enterprise customers, Wyatt said.

While Wyatt wouldn't disclose the cost of a business 3LM console and server, she contended that it's not expensive.

Wyatt conceded that Android has faced skepticism from IT managers accustomed to security protections included in the Research in Motion BlackBerry Enterprise Server. "We have to get Android as a whole at a stable and secure place and once Android is behind the firewall [with 3LM],that helps," she said.

"There's a lot of mythology around Android and whether it's secure or not," she said. "IT needs hardware encryption and support for certifications and VPN."

Because Research in Motion has had a hard year with network outages, slow rollouts of new smartphones and financial worries, many in IT face the task converting some existing BlackBerry users to other smartphones platforms -- chiefly Android and Apple's iOS, Wyatt said.

"BlackBerry has been helping us in many ways, with outages and [more]," she said. "We hear people using Android saying they want to stay on Android and iPhone saying they want to stay on iPhone, but BlackBerry users say they might not want BlackBerry when they get another phone."

Meanwhile, the so-called consumerization of IT trend has led to workers who never received a company-issued BlackBerry to use a personal device for business voice and data needs. Many IT organizations used to providing support for 1,000 BlackBerry users might suddenly find they must support 30,000 smartphone users on a variety of platforms, Wyatt noted.

IT managers are also worried about controlling the data usage of workers, to keep costs down, she said.

Motorola's Android phones have for a year included a data management tool that can set policies on data usage. For example, the tool would let managers set a policy requiring that downloads, such as a movie, be done on Wi-Fi rather than 3G or 4G wireless, Wyatt said.

Currently, it's not possible to separate personal data usage from business use on Android devices, but capability is coming, Wyatt said.

Today, generic Android provides IT managers the ability to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen phones, an ability that could "create a lot of issues" for users who don't want to lose precious personal items as family photos, she noted. The 3LM tools do allow partitioning of personal and corporate data, which allows workers using personal smartphones to keep such data, Wyatt said.

Wyatt said she also believes corporate IT shops will be pleased that Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha recently called for fewer models of Motorola smartphones to be unveiled in 2012.

"Diversity costs money and to have to test an app on 30 models of phones instead of 10 models," she said. "Fewer models helps us with updates and testing and configuration and that applies to corporate IT."

Wyatt has been at Motorola for six years and previously handled OS licensing at Palm. She said her enterprise division is small, but wouldn't reveal how many workers she supervises. In her group are software developers as well as enterprise sales and marketing professionals.

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Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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This story, "Insecure Android a myth, Motorola exec says" was originally published by Computerworld.

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