New technology enables smart devices to have both personal and secure business uses.
A number of software and hardware "dual-persona" smart device technologies are being readied for the marketplace.
The corporate device of the future protects business assets while helping employees manage their personal lives.
Switching between a corporate smart phone and a personal one can get seriously complicated. Often the two worlds get jumbled. What was supposed to be a simple game download to pass time before a business trip turns into a virus that targets the company email account. Or a lost job means losing home video that was only on the company device.
Several new technologies are emerging that allow an employee's personal and professional worlds to be managed on one device. This type of tech, called "dual persona," means greater security for companies -- especially ones with sensitive data such as banks -- as well as portability for personal information like contact lists, photos, games, videos and instant messages.
"People are getting tired of carrying two and three handsets to conduct both their personal and professional lives," said Marti Konstant, vice president of marketing for Open Kernel Labs, which is designing security capabilities for smart phones by employing multiple operating systems. Phones with OK Labs security will be available in the next six to 18 months, depending on the manufacturer.
Another way to keep business data separate from personal info in to isolate them from each other, or "collar the applications", says Ahmad Raza Sadeghi,director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Systems and the Center for Advanced Security Research in Darmstadt, Germany. That means partitioning and color coding data by application.
Sadeghi and his colleagues were approached by German Railways about a way to make its smart phones more useful for around 170,000 of its mobile employees. His team developed BizzTrust for Android, an application that can identify which smart phone content is personal, and what is professional. If an employee's personal email is attacked by a virus, the virus can't get access to corporate email -- or any other corporate info. The application can protect data such as corporate contacts and email messages, Sadeghi said.
Keeping personal data separate from corporate data doesn't automatically eliminate the risk of downloading a virus. Software from 3LM, a company recently bought by Motorola, can track down malware and eliminate it.
"If the phone detects a malicious app or something wrong with it, with 3LM we can actually take over, we can remove it," said Christy Wyatt, corporate vice president and general manager for Enterprise at Motorola Mobility.
"The system is intelligent enough to know which things on your phone you own and which things on your phone your IT manager owns, and manage them independently," she added. 3LM technology is licensed to other device manufacturers, including Sony Ericsson, HTC, and LG.
Wyatt said she expects more smart devices to have smarter built-in controls in the future. Imagine children using devices for classroom work and then handing them over to the teacher to wipe clean before the next class arrives, she said. Or medical professionals signing out devices when they go on duty.
It used to be that IT departments would put strict limits on corporate devices. But using a corporate-issued electronic for personal use is almost inevitable. That could work as long as the smart phone was misplaced.
"If you lost your phone, they'd wipe the entire device," said Alexander Trewby, cofounder of Enterproid, a software startup that launched last year with funding from Google, Comcast and Qualcomm. If an employee had stored any personal photos on it, those would be gone forever.
With dual persona technology, virtual worlds are separate. An employee gets to keep his or her own digital content and, if needed, all those snippets can be moved to a new phone through the service provider.
Enterproid's Android application is designed to work with any carrier and device manufacturer. It employs a 256-bit advanced encryption standard used by the U.S. government, and is expected to be out in the next few weeks. This month AT&T announced that it will be using Enterproid's application for a new service called Toggle to keep work and personal sides separate. Toggle will be available on the Android market and will work on smart devices from other service providers.
Another player in the dual persona space is the Palo Alto-based software company VMware. They recently announced partnerships with Telefonica and Verizon to bring a virtualization platform called Horizon Mobile to the market within the next several months, according to Christian Bateman, VMware's group manager for end-user computing.
Beyond Android, BlackBerry launched its own technology called BlackBerry Balance this year, which currently works on the company's smart phones. This tech allows combined email, calendars, and contact lists, says David Heit, director of BlackBerry software product strategy.
It also gives IT departments control over the extent that personal and corporate co-mingle. For example, whether Facebook allows contacts to be synced when it loads. Company policy would be allowed to override that, Heit said.
Heit says he hands out his corporate phone number to work contacts while friends and family have his personal cell phone number. Both numbers go to his BlackBerry. "There's separation, but it's all converged in one product."