Mobile World Congress (MWC) is in full swing this week in Barcelona. Of course, most of the action is about faster phones, glitzier features and sharper displays. Another trend that is unavoidable, though perhaps a bit less dramatic, is that vendors recognize security must be dealt with as increasing amounts of valuable data ends up on mobile devices.
Two of the key services that require air-tight mobile security, and are thus best positioned to drive vendors and service providers to act, are Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobile payments via near field communications (NFC).
News was made on both fronts in Spain.
This is an important time in the evolution of BYOD. It has grown up quickly, and IT departments and their vendors are rushing to catch up in many ways.
My feature last week, “Smartphones Have Split Personalities – And That’s a Good Thing,” discussed adding security and management by creating dual identities through containerization, virtualizing devices and employing “app-wrappers.” At MWC, Samsung unveiled a containerization approach called Knox. EWEEK describes it as a means of addressing “advanced security requirements” for Android and its use in BYOD environments. The vendor is partnering with Centrify on the platform, which will seamlessly add containerization to Samsung devices:
Through the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) software license and marketing agreement, Centrify will enable multi-application single-sign-on (SSO) for mobile and Web apps inside the Samsung Knox container, allowing customers to use their existing infrastructure—Microsoft Active Directory (AD)—to manage Knox containers, Samsung devices and role-based access to mobile applications.
It seems that Samsung is not putting all its BYOD eggs in one basket. The vendor also announced a trial of its Galaxy S III smartphone with Red Bend. CIO.com has the few specifics that are available. Unlike the Centrify project, which focuses on containerization, Samsung and Red Bend are using the virtualization approach in which discrete “instances” of the Android OS are running on the device.
On the NFC front, Visa and Samsung announced a two-part partnership, according to PCMag. The partnership would provide financial institutions worldwide with access to the Visa Mobile Provisioning Service for secure download of customers’ financial data. Visa’s payWave applet will provide NFC-enabled Samsung phones with contactless payment options.
MasterCard, it should be noted, introduced MasterPass at MWC. The platform will be rolled out before the end of March in Canada and Australia. TechCrunch said that MasterPass is an updated version of MasterCard’s PayPass Wallet Services. The press coverage did not focus on security elements of the new platform, however.
Finally, the vendor Gemalto made a number of announcements, including LinqUs Mobile Wallet:
Gemalto’s LinqUs Mobile Wallet solution includes a secure application framework, a dedicated mobile wallet server, and connectivity with Gemalto’s secure platforms for TSM (Trusted Service Management) and mobile payment.
There is not too much commonality between NFC and BYOD. Two things they do share, however, are fast growth and the need to have a great handle on security. Look for lots of security-related announcements to come out of both camps, just as they did in Spain.