3LM, the company founded by former Android developers and since acquired by Motorola, is making its enterprise security platform for Android phones available this week.
3LM claims to be unique among mobile security vendors by offering a technology that secures all apps that run on a phone, not just those written for a specific security platform.
"There are solutions that allow you to create [secure] containers or some space on a device for the application," Tom Moss, president of 3LM, said. Those platforms are limited because applications have to be written for that container and because everything outside of the container is insecure, he said.
However, to secure an entire Android phone, 3LM has had to convince handset makers to load a piece of its software onto their phones. Moss said a dozen phone makers have been doing that over the past four months or so, and have produced millions of phones with the software. HTC, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Sharp and Pantech are all named on 3LM's website.
The handset makers are loading the software on all their phone models, Moss said. "It's one of our key philosophies," he said. "There's no such thing as an enterprise SKU. Any device [can] make its way into an enterprise."
The preloaded software works in conjunction with enterprise server software and an application on the phone. When those components are in place, 3LM offers device encryption, the ability to set blacklists or white lists of applications that users can access, password enforcement and remote data wipe.
IT managers can also install applications remotely, set some so they can't be removed, and remotely uninstall or disable applications. 3LM's technology includes VPN access so users can access internal resources and IT can check on the health and status of phones.
Because the technology is designed to protect everything on the phone, users can install applications from the Android Market, provided administrators don't blacklist them. "Right now, out of the box, [3LM] works with 300,000 apps from Android," he said.
That solves one problem that has faced some enterprises: "the dumbing down of the smartphone," he said. Because many of the most stringent security platforms only protect email, calendar and contacts, users don't get the full benefits of a smartphone, he said.
3LM was founded after Moss and his colleagues noticed that enterprises and government workers weren't using Android. They met with CIOs and asked them what was holding them back. Their security concerns couldn't be addressed with an application, he said. "Functionalities missing from the core platform were holding back a larger number of these enterprise customers."
3LM's server is available for enterprises starting this week. The company hasn't published its price list. Enterprises can run the server software internally or buy it as a hosted service from 3LM.
3LM has started focusing on Android but plans to add other operating systems. In the meantime it announced a partnership with BoxTone, a mobile-device-management system provider. BoxTone customers will also be able to manage 3LM-powered phones, as well as non-Android phones.