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Symantec Takes Aim At Mobile Security Space

Symantec CEO Enrique Salem said that the company's mobile security strategy would likely include authentication, application security, data protection and management for the mobile platform.

Symantec is aiming to protect critical data on smartphones and tablets by applying its existing security technologies to mobile platforms, which could position the company as a leader in the mobile security space.

During a keynote Tuesday at the company's Vision Conference in Las Vegas, Nev., Symantec CEO Enrique Salem said the company is headed for the mobile space, with impending launches of mobile management and security products.

And while still vague on details, Salem later said in an interview with CRN that the company's mobile strategy will include many the same components as its existing security strategies for protecting enterprise networks and desktops.

Salem said one of the clients' biggest fears is managing multiple systems for the array of mobile devices on the market -- Androids, BlackBerrys and iPhones and iPads -- which have led them to demand a comprehensive management console that recognizes a smartphone or tablet "like another connected computer," he said.

"[As an end user], I'm not going to have a system that I use on my PC and Mac that's different than the one I use to manage my Android, and iPad and iPhone. It would be a nightmare," Salem said.

The mobile strategy will include an authentication component, which Symantec will include from last year's acquisition of VeriSign, as well as an application management feature that also focuses on e-mail security.

"Because we have so much e-mail on these devices already, you've got to think broadly about what applications are going to go on these devices, and secure and manage the applications that are on them," Salem said.

Finally, Salem said that future mobile security solutions will include features that protect privacy and information on users' devices, acting as an extension of the company's existing DLP and VeriSign products, but transferred to the mobile platform.

"I'll have the same level of control that I have on a desktop," Salem said. "If you look at what we're doing, it's an extension of Altiris. It continues to leverage what we've already done."

For the channel, Salem said that partners wanting to take advantage of the burgeoning mobile security space will likely extend their existing practices -- on DLP or authentication for example -- to include those same security solutions on the mobile platform.

"Any time there's a change and the customer needs help, it's a great opportunity for partners," Salem said. "Just as we've built some great partners around each of those areas, as a partner, I'd be asking how do we now protect mobile devices in the way that they protect PCs and Macs? (The partner) would tell you that this is another opportunity for him to extend what he already does to the next set of devices."

Next: Symantec Says Opportunities For Partners Exist In Mobile Security Space

Symantec said that channel partners could build up a mobile practice down the road as the solutions become available.

"It's another endpoint on the network. The devices are getting smarter and smarter and having more capabilities," said Randy Cochran, Symantec vice president of channel sales for the Americas. "Android has more apps than iPad does, but how do you certify that those apps are legit?

Cochran said that partners, for example, could potentially build up practices down the road involving a security certification system for mobile apps similar to the VeriSign authentication check mark today.

"There's going to be some cool things that happen in that space in the not so distant future," Cochran said.

Meanwhile, channel partners expressed strong enthusiasm in anticipation of impending mobile security launch.

"I think that Symantec has a fantastic chance to own this," said Feris Rifai, CEO of San Francisco-based Bay Dynamics. "The reality is they're doing a lot of the right things already. They have pretty much all the pieces, and they're putting together a fantastic strategy."

Rifai expressed enthusiasm for the impending launch of a CISO dashboard, demonstrated at Symantec Vision Conference, that would include mobile management and security capabilities.

"Bringing their strength from an app perspective, with the ability to manage, in the overarching context of security for mobile devices -- there's a real chance to take a leadership role in this space."

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