McAfee Unveils Strategy To Secure Mobile Devices, Data, Apps

"It's about protecting devices, the data on those devices and ensuring that the applications being used are not infected with malware," said John Dasher, senior director of mobile security at McAfee, in an interview. "Doing any one of these things is not sufficient -- you have to do all three."

Mobile device management has emerged as a top priority for many large organizations, and so the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor is baking this into all of its products. Of course, consumers have different needs than enterprises, so McAfee's approach will vary by market segment, but the underlying principle remains the same, according to Dasher.

One example on the consumer side is McAfee Mobile Security, which allows customers to manage mobile devices, and locate, lock and remotely wipe data on devices if they're lost or stolen. Consumers also have access to McAfee VirusScan Mobile for antimalware protection, Dasher said.

Enterprises have the same management needs, but they also require flexible policies that protect data on mobile devices, such as managing encryption and ensuring that jailbroken or rooted devices aren’t able to access the network, said Dasher.

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McAfee is also branching out into mobile application security, and last month launched a beta of App Alert For Android, a product that analyzes applications on Android devices and assigns them grades based on how the permissions they have to access, store, and transmit a users' personal data.

McAfee Enterprise Mobility Manager provides an inventory of apps on mobile devices along with a sense of what data they're able to access. This is particularly important for entertainment related apps, because people are often so excited about using them that they don't pay attention to things like permissions, Dasher said.

"People often decided they want an app based on word of mouth, and they'll install it and agree to any dialogue box that comes up," said Dasher. "People install stuff without realizing that it's not terribly safe behavior."

In the future, McAfee plans to evolve App Alert into more of a real time technology, Dasher said. "Over time, you'll see this capability morph a bit, and you'll see us provide App Alert information from the cloud to a more diverse range of devices," he said.

In the enterprise, employees often download mobile apps from variety of sources, including in-house apps and ones they buy from app stores. The inventorying function of App Alert lets companies get a handle on the apps their employees are using, and enable them to recommend specific apps to employees, Dasher said.

McAfee's mobile security strategy also relies on Global Threat Intelligence, which uses McAfee Labs' worldwide network of millions of sensors to provide cloud-based file, web, message, and network reputation services. In the future, McAfee plans to extend this to applications, Dasher said.

"We take all of that intelligence, correlate it and provide data feeds to our various products and services," said Dasher. "Logically, providing an application reputation service would be a natural step forward."