Symantec's Salem: Get Ready To Secure Mobile Devices And Apps

The proliferation of mobile devices and new security threats is increasing the complexity of protecting business data and forcing companies to be more proactive in securing their data centers.

That's the word from Enrique Salem, president and CEO of Symantec, who on Monday used the Symantec Vision conference in Las Vegas to discuss the importance of securing data for companies about to be deluged with new threats coming from mobile devices, social media, and other technologies on the horizon.

Protecting corporate data is becoming more and more complex, Salem told a packed audience during his keynote presentation. "So we have to look forward, not weeks or months, but years ahead," he said.

[Related: Symantec's Top Exec Outlines IT Challenges As Users Merge Personal And Business Tech ]

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He cited as an example Symantec's presentation during the Symantec Vision 2010 conference that featured "Julie," a fictional character who was used to illustrate a user in the not-too-distant future.

In the example, "Julie" woke up in the morning from an alarm clock app in her portable iPad-like device that she then used throughout the day at work and in her personal life. "Julie" also seamlessly switched devices as needed at work, and even used a new portable device to continue work immediately after breaking her original device.

The kind of flexibility needed to seamlessly integrate mobile devices into a user's business and personal life has a lot of implications for businesses, Salem said.

This includes the fact that everything in business will evolve around people and the data they use more so than the actual technology, that business and digital personas are merging, that every user needs more services, and that every business needs to have a scalable infrastructure, he said.

"This is the year when our vision becomes a reality," he said.

That vision to which Salem referred stems from a number of important drivers. For instance, he cited research stating that there will be 326 million new mobile devices in use by 2015, about half of which will be based on Apple technology and half on Google Android.

At the same time, Salem said, the use of social media will completely change how users and businesses collaborate, and users will find new ways to share information across devices, companies, and clouds.

Next: Surviving The Coming "Bring Your Own Device" Deluge

More importantly, the information that in the past was contained within a company's four walls is more and more likely to be found outside the corporate data center, Salem said.

"Ultimately, this is making your job more difficult," he said. "Our job is to give you control points so you can maintain control. ... We need to protect physical devices. We need to protect physical infrastructures. And we need to protect the cloud."

There are two requirements a company needs to survive the "bring-your-own-device" trend, Salem said.

The first is to have a solid mobile device management strategy that includes the ability for users to self-provision their applications. At the same time, the corporate IT team needs to maintain control over users' devices with such capabilities as remotely wiping corporate data from lost or stolen devices, he said.

The second is to manage the applications used by corporate users, including the need to maintain access control to corporate data and to protect that data from unauthorized use by mobile devices, he said.

Salem said businesses will increasingly adopt corporate app stores from which users can easily deploy authorized business apps and which the IT department can centrally manage and control. "We're going to provide these capabilities for all your employees," he said.

Symantec is also moving to make it easier for businesses to manage and control data coming from and going to the cloud, Salem said.

He pointed to his company's February introduction of Symantec O3, a cloud security platform that automates data protection and governance and provides access to information based on corporate policies.

Symantec O3 helps organize and classify information, and it is content-aware to allow businesses to see what information is exiting the corporate firewall and stop it if needed, Salem said. Symantec O3 also enforces encryption rules on business content and provides audit trails of data movements.

Salem also pointed to a February unveiling of an integrated Symantec and VMware system for protecting VMware virtualization platforms. He said it was the first time a security company brought a comprehensive suite of protection to the VMware platform.