Will Android be the most secure of all?

Last month's acquisition of mobile security firm 3LM by Motorola could usher in a new era of enterprise-class security for Android devices

Motorola's Xoom is an impressive first shot at an iPad-style tablet based on the new Android 3.0 operating system. As InfoWorld's Galen Gruman notes in his first look, one Android 3.0 strong suit is its support for Exchange ActiveSync security policies -- an essential feature set for enterprise-class mobile devices.

But for Android devices, particularly those from Motorola, that may only be the beginning. On Feb. 14, Motorola Mobility announced that it had acquired 3LM (Three Laws Mobility), a secretive company started by ex-Google execs that is developing "mobile enterprise security software and solutions and mobile device management products for the Android operating system."

Motorola Mobility is a spin-off devoted to smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. The company intends to start selling 3LM software in the second quarter and no doubt will integrate and package 3LM enterprise solutions with its smart devices. Even more interesting, however, is that 3LM will work with other Android device developers to promote and distribute its solutions. On its website, 3LM lists Sony Ericsson, HTC, Sharp, and Pantech as partners.

Playing off Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics, 3LM's three laws of mobility are the following:

  • Protect your user: A mobile device may not harm its user or, through inaction, allow its user to come to harm though malicious code or content.
  • Protect yourself: A mobile device must protect itself and the integrity of its data and secured communications.
  • Obey: A mobile device must let the user use the device freely, as long as such usage does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

3LM's website hints that the company is developing enterprise encryption solutions for data at rest and in transit, including internal memory and SD cards. There's also some mention of malware protection and remote management, including enforcing standard security policies; user administration for predefined Active Directory and/or LDAP groups; remote application installation, remote lock, remote wipe, and advanced password rules; and other features enterprises hunger for in an increasingly chaotic mobile world.

Similar features have been incorporated into Android with various upgrades, including whole device encryption in Android 3.0 and remote wiping in Android 2.2. But the combination of Motorola Mobility and 3LM could take mobile enterprise security to a new level. There's even an unconfirmed rumor that 3LM intends to provide the equivalent of a BlackBerry BES server.

A turnkey security system was one of the main reasons the BlackBerry took the enterprise by storm. If future Android devices can match that, they could eventually become the mobile enterprise devices of choice.

This story, "Android looks to take the mobile security crown," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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