Juniper Launches Mobile Security Suite, Threat Reasearch Center

In a move that charts a new direction for the networking company, Juniper Networks is taking a giant leap forward in the mobile security space.

On Tuesday Juniper launched Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite, and announced the opening its Global Threat and Research Center dedicated entirely to mobile security threats.

Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson said that the company's move toward mobile security comes at a time when the workplace is inundated with an explosion of personal mobile devices, posing a significant threat to the security posture of an organizations.

"These devices are connected, creating some challenges and concerns for large enterprise customers. Security is the challenge," Johnson said. "At some level, this becomes very personal. If that data is on that phone, and if that data gets out there, then that data is everywhere."

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Altogether, the Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite, which is part of the broader Junos Pulse platform, incorporates anti-virus, personal firewall, anti-spam, data loss and theft prevention and monitoring and control services, preventing spyware and malicious code from infiltrating a device and stealing data.

Next: Juniper Partners Say Mobile Offering Makes Sense

The mobile security suite, which is built on Juniper's existing SSL VPN product, can also remotely back-up and restore data, locate devices if they are lost or stolen, and can send an alert when a SIM has been removed or replaced.

Juniper solution providers say that while a new area for the company, mobile security made sense as the logical next step for its product strategy. Dave Casey, CEO of Dallas-based Westron Communications, said that Juniper would gain traction in the mobile space by leveraging the credibility of the Junos OS to make inroads in the mobile arena.

"They're holding their own with Cisco in security," Casey said. "Juniper is established. They haven't been in the mobile side. But what they're going to play on is that they've designed Junos as a solid operating system. It’s a very secure OS. (The mobile security suite) is just an extension of that."

Executives tout the new mobile security platform as one designed to protect sensitive information on users' personal mobile devices that have become a tool for both business and home activities. Subsequently, the suite can support and protect an array of mobile devices, across all operating systems. "Having a security offering that only addresses a subset of mobile devices puts the security challenge on the customer to resolve those problems," Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the security suite's cross-platform capabilities pique the interest of Juniper channel partners who say that they are increasingly being asked to secure Apple iPhone devices, as well as BlackBerry smartphones.

Next: Cross-Platform Capabilities A Draw For Partners

"It's astonishing how many people have a BlackBerry in one pocket and an iPhone in anther pocket. Most people would prefer to have just one device, mostly the iPhone," Case said. "It will help with the companies that actually are being bombarded by their users saying 'we want something other than the standard issue.'"

Steve Pataky, Juniper vice president of worldwide channel development and programs said that the security suite is targeted toward enterprise environments of 25,000 users, but can scale down to SMBs with 50 users. The product also will be geared toward the consumer, featuring parental controls for users who want to block inappropriate content and contacts on their children's mobile phones.

Pataky said that for solution providers, the new offering opens up a wide opportunity for service providers to add value with consulting and other services around the product.

Casey said that his unified communications specialty was already heavily focused on mobile security, but that the Juniper offering would likely be another tool help initiate conversations about mobile security with his customers.

"Security is not just about firewall and VPN, it's about these mobile devices. There's a lot of challenges with mobility -- security is one of the top ones," he said. "The higher you go up in the organization, the less real world knowledge they have."

Next: Juniper Unveils Global Threat Center

Down the road, the company might consider adding specializations or certifications around the mobile offering for channel partners who want to dive deeper into that space.

"We do want to differentiate and distinguish partners that have those capabilities," Pataky said. "Now is the time to leverage the technology from Juniper and build out your practice."

Bolstering Juniper's move into the mobile space was the grand opening of the Columbus, Ohio-based Juniper Global Threat Center, touted as the only center entirely dedicated to tracking, responding and researching mobile threats. The threat center was previously operating under SMobile Systems, which Juniper acquired in June.

Researchers at the threat center will provide around-the-clock global monitoring for mobile security threats to both consumer and enterprise customers, which will include malware, direct attacks, physical compromises, data communication interception and exploitation and misconduct. Researchers will release the "State Of Mobile Security 2010 Report" analyzing the mobile security threat landscape, in the first half of 2011.