Mobilisafe debuts with mobile risk-management software

Microsoft Exchange add-on monitors everything from Android to iOS smartphones and tablets

Start-up Mobilisafe makes its debut Monday with a product intended to help IT managers monitor for risks associated with both employee-owned and corporate-issued  mobile devices.

Called Mobile Risk Management, the Mobilisafe software is added to Microsoft Exchange servers to monitor for incoming traffic from devices, according to CEO and Founder Giri Sreenivas. As the devices are syncing, they communicate information that Mobilisafe can collect and send to its cloud for analysis, and make available through a dashboard  to customers. “It monitors and assesses risks these devices present,” Sreenivas says. The kind of things that the Mobile Risk Management product watches for include apps that might be considered malware or spyware, and whether firmware upgrades have been made to mobile devices.

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“You can manage the patch state of devices,” says Sreenivas, noting that in general it remains hard to assure users update their devices, especially as “carriers are struggling with the over-the-air updates.” The Mobilisafe software, which uses a discovery process to identify devices,  is said to monitor trust levels in this way for about 500 different mobile smartphones and tablets, including Android and Apple iOS models. The software can issue a “trust score” on a 10-point scale based on real-time analysis.

The idea is to be able to establish a compliance policy about network access and restrict access when a device being monitored fails to meet compliance.  The software comes with templates to start that process.

In terms of whether to decide to block access based on policy, that could be done manually, in an automated fashion or simply by getting an alert. Sreenivas, who formerly worked as a software development manager at T-Mobile, acknowledges he has goals to further develop the software as a platform to enable more functions, such as role-based access control. And currently, the software isn’t able to differentiate between an employee-owned device and a corporate-issued one. Ideas under review might involve adding agent-based software, but for now the Mobile Risk Management product does not require an agent on the client device.

The Seattle-based start-up, founded in 2010 and now with about a dozen employees, has received approximately $1.5 million in venture capital-funding from Madrona Venture Group, Trilogy Equity Partners and T-Venture. The company says it  already has a few customers, and its pricing structure under an annual contract for 500 users would typically run $4 per user per month (even if the user has multiple mobile devices). But Mobilisafe says it’s sticking to flexible terms based on volumes.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security.

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