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Product Watch: AirPatrol Launches New Way To Enforce Mobile Device Security

'Situationally aware' technology can turn mobile apps on and off depending on where the device goes -- and who's nearby

Imagine a bank being able to turn off potentially threatening mobile applications when customers enter the building. Or a business that can turn off certain employee mobile applications when the CEO enters the room.

That's the idea behind ZoneDefense, a new mobile security technology unveiled today by AirPatrol. ZoneDefense can selectively allow or disallow the use of specific mobile applications, depending on where users go or who they are in the room with, the company says.

"Companies want to allow people to bring in their personal devices, but they need a better way to protect themselves from potential threats carried by those devices," says Tom Kellermann, CTO at AirPatrol. "What we're doing is giving them a way to enforce policy on a situationally aware basis."

ZoneDefense can detect any mobile device in an enterprise, track its location, check its compliance with company policy, and enforce rules based on where the user is located and who is nearby, AirPatrol says.

Under ZoneDefense, any mobile device that is detected -- whether it is a managed device or an unknown device -- can be restricted to specifically defined policies based on its current location and the other devices nearby. For example, a mobile device that is allowed to do file sharing in an approved area of the headquarters building might have file sharing turned off in another part of the facility. Enterprises also can set up the system to trigger an alert when an unknown device enters a secure zone, such as a boardroom or trading floor, AirPatrol says.

Utilizing commercial wireless bands and Wi-Fi, ZoneDefense can track a device within a couple of meters of its exact location, AirPatrol says. The initial rollout supports only iOS (iPhones and iPads) and BlackBerry, but the product will expand to the Android operating system later this year, the company says.

In addition to the release of ZoneDefense, AirPatrol issued a new whitepaper that points out vulnerabilities in mobile security strategies and offers guidelines on implementing wireless security policies.

Several of the vulnerabilities noted in the whitepaper are related to authentication. "One-time use passwords delivered via SMS are being defeated regularly by growing threats, such as Zeus Trojans and DroidDream," Kellermann observes. "This can make corporate data accessible to the adversary."

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Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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