Open Source Subnet An independent Open Source community View more

Zscaler moves mobile security beyond MDM

Mobile apps are the key to mobile security.

Mobile devices have swept over the enterprise like a Tsunami. According to a Cisco survey, up to 95% of organizations have BYOD in some sort or another on their networks. The reasons for the popularity of mobile devices are pretty obvious. But there is a dark side to the rise of mobile devices. The security implications of mobile devices accessing corporate networks and data keep network and security administrators up at night. Now, Zscaler has a new take on taming the mobile security monster. According to Zscaler, it is all about securing the mobile app.

To date, there have been two approaches to mobile security. One has been taking the anti-malware suites from our desktops and moving them onto our phones and tablets. It is pretty ironic that at a time when many in the security industry bemoan the uselessness of these suites on our PCs, we are pushing the same technology onto our mobile devices. If they don't work on PCs, what makes you think they will work on phones? Not to mention the bloat and performance hit that these suites are imposing on our mobile devices.

The other response to the mobile security threat has been the rise of mobile device management (MDM). MDM had the promise to be the killer app for mobile security. The idea being that, through MDM, the organization can impose policies and control over all mobile devices in the organization.  It sounds great and to be fair, MDM has some really positive benefits. The ability to wipe, lock and track mobile devices is great. Also, the white list and black list of applications is a great start to controlling mobile apps. The problem is the dynamic nature of mobile applications. They are changing all the time and there are literally millions of them. Some from legitimate app marketplaces, some from not so legitimate app markets. Overall, the biggest problem with MDM is it is great for policy, but lacks real-time visibility and control over mobile devices, mobile apps and the data they transmit and store.

Zscaler believes they have the answer. Their new mobile security solution released last week builds on their success in the endpoint security market. Zscaler has built perhaps the largest security cloud in the world. They can route traffic through their system to provide real-time analysis and protection. They have now brought the same sort of functionality to the mobile device segment.

The new Zscaler solution recognizes that not all organizations want the same type of control over their mobile devices. Consequently, the Zscaler solution is comprised of three elements - App Security and Control, SafeBrowser and SecureAgent. 

In this way, you can secure mobile devices only when they are on the corporate LAN, monitor browser communications from anywhere, or monitor, manage and secure mobile devices, mobile apps and data from everywhere.

Zscaler's solution is different than traditional anti-malware in that it actually routes your app traffic through its cloud where it can be analyzed in real time and policies can be applied. Obviously, this is only possible because of the scale of the Zscaler cloud. To give you an idea of this scale, consider that Zscaler processes more in a day then Google does in searches.

Another advantage of the Zscaler solution is that companies already using the Zscaler solution for their PCs can now use one pane of glass across the entire enterprise.

Zscaler's mobile security solution represents a new wave of mobile security solutions. They are not alone - there are several security companies working on new ways to solve mobile security issues that promise to move us beyond the anti-malware suite and leapfrog over MDM.

To comment on this article and other Network World content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter stream.
Must read: Hidden Cause of Slow Internet and how to fix it
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.