Sophos Builds Mobile Strategy Around Dialogs Buy

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Sophos has acquired privately held Dialogs, a maker of mobile device management technology that Sophos will use as the platform for future security products. Financial details were not disclosed.

Sophos currently licenses Dialogs' MDM technology, which is the core of Sophos' Mobile Control product. By swallowing the Wiesbaden, Germany-based company, Sophos gets the technology, as well as Dialogs' 35 employees, 80 percent of whom are engineers, Payal Mehrotra, product manager for Sophos, said.

Dialogs delivers MDM over the Internet or as on-premise software. The product includes a Web-based console for installing or removing applications from devices, creating and distributing configuration profiles and setting up VPN access. When devices are lost or stolen, the technology can delete all data. Dialogs supports Apple iPhone and iPad, Research In Motion's BlackBerry and smartphones and tablets running Google Android, Windows Media and Symbian.

Sophos, which announced the acquisition Tuesday, plans to use Dialogs as the platform for mobile security products aimed at companies dealing with the growing number of mobile devices attached to the corporate network. If successful in strengthening its product line, Sophos would compete against much larger rivals Symantec and Intel-owned McAfee.

U.K.-based Sophos' roadmap starts with integrating its data encryption technology for mobile devices into Mobile Control by the end of the year, Mehrotra said. In May, mobile encryption will be available in Sophos' Safeguard Enterprise, which provides a similar capability for desktops and laptops.

By early next year, Sophos will roll into Mobile Control malware detection for applications running on Android devices. The technology, which won't support Apple products, will be available in the summer as a separate application that businesses can download from Sophos' online application store or from the Android Market. "This is just version one," Mehrotra said. "In our second version we will definitely incorporate more of enterprise-like features."

Sophos acknowledged that it needs more products to become a player in the mobile security market. "Sophos Mobile Control is going to be the foundation and then we will add the pieces on top," Mehrotra said. All new products will be available through channel partners.

Sophos is not the only vendor gobbling smaller companies to build out a mobile security strategy. Symantec bought last month Nukona, a maker of software that separates personal and business applications on smartphones and tablets, so the devices can be used for pleasure while securing corporate data.

Symantec acquired Nukona shortly after buying Odyssey Software, which monitors mobile devices to ensure that they adhere to corporate policies on application and data use.

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