Google Tightens Mobile Security

Google today further enhanced mobile device security options for iPhone, Nokia Series E and Windows Mobile devices, building on a release earlier this year. Ironically, the new security options won't be available for devices based on Google's own Android operating system until later this year.

The new device management options for Google Apps administrators let them enforce such policies as requiring devices to use data encryption and auto-wiping a device after a specified number of failed password attempts. Admins would also have the option to disable the phone's camera and disable data synchronization when the device is roaming to reduce wireless overage charges.

Two other security options let Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) admins enforce a policy that old passwords are not reused and also require that passwords be changed after specified time periods.

The moves follow earlier efforts by Google. Back in February, the company unveiled several new features for Google Apps Premier and Education Edition administrators designed to help them manage iPhone, Nokia E series and Windows Mobile devices from the Google Apps administrative panel. Those features include the ability to remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen devices, lock idle devices after a set period of inactivity and require each device be password protected.

"It’s our mission to provide users with seamless access to their data while allowing enterprise administrators to centrally manage a diverse range of mobile devices," Google software engineer Dale Woodford said in a blog post. "We're working to enhance our device management options and to expand our list of supported devices -- including Android later this year."

Analyst Jack Gold said he's not surprised Google is making the options available for non-Android devices first because the Android software stack currently doesn't offer the same encryption and remote wipe capabilities. But Google can support Windows Mobile and iPhone devices via Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft's ActiveSync technology that it licenses.

"Google has a real credibility problem in the enterprise because of their lack of security features, so maybe this is Google saying to those customers, 'We hear you,'" Gold, principal analyst with J.Gold Associates, told InternetNews.com.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Android, iPhone, Google Apps, mobile security, ActiveSync