Symantec To Launch Mobile Reputation Service

Symantec executives said that the decision to develop a cloud-based mobile security service utilizing reputation technologies stemmed from IT consumerization trends -- that is, the massive influx of personal consumer devices used in the workplace.

"The proliferation of Internet-connected devices is really just at the beginning and we think it's going to grow petty radically over the next few years," said Joe Pasqua, vice president of Symantec Research Labs, during the Symantec Vision Conference in Las Vegas Wednesday.

The impending mobile reputation technology is currently being developed in Symantec Research Labs and is still in the incubation phase. However, Pasqua said that the official launch of the mobile reputation service should be available on the market in the next one to two years, after developers finish compiling the reputation database.

Ultimately, the service would be a lightweight Symantec client that scores malware based on reputation and delivers protection in the cloud. It will also be agnostic to the transport and able to be accessed from anywhere, executives say. The mechanism for scoring malware reputation is constantly evolving, Pasqua said. And while the mobile reputation service is still in the testing phase, false positives have occurred less than a tenth of one percent, he added.

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The end user customer would also have the ability to go into the console and manually whitelist applications or adjust the rating to an acceptable reputation score, if they wanted to run software otherwise marked as questionable. Conversely, the end-user would also be able to restrict or blacklist software that they prohibited employees from running, regardless of reputation score.

Next: Carriers Express Interest In Reputation Security Meanwhile, reputation security for mobile devices is becoming more relevant, not just for the consumers but for the major mobile carriers, Pasqua said. Specifically, mobile carriers have more data going across their network as Internet traffic, which can potentially be exposed or compromised by malware.

"The carriers really care about this. If you look at where they're spending money, they making a huge investment in infrastructure," Pasqua said. "They want to be really, really careful that their infrastructure is protected."

The need for comprehensive mobile reputation security could potentially open up channel opportunities. Specifically, executives say that the proliferation of personal and consumer mobile devices used in the workplace present myriad security challenges -- such as the problem of security information leaking on mobile social networking apps -- which will likely have to be addressed by channel partners. However, to what degree the channel is involved around the mobile reputation service will have to be fleshed out later down the road.

"Users are telling us that they're just seeing more and more devices plugged into their IT infrastructure. There's an opportunity for partners to help customers cope with this proliferation," said Francis deSouza, Symantec group president of enterprise product group. "The challenge is how do you secure those devices, particularly when your data is on those devices."