Cisco Brings 'Highly Secure' Net Connectivity to the iPhone

Enterprises concerned about iPhone security have a new option courtesy of Cisco.

The networking giant announced Thursday that its AnyConnect Security Mobility software for iOS 4.1 is now available on the iPhone App Store. AnyConnect also works with Apple's iPod Touch device.

While Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) offers some IT-friendly management and security features like remote wipe and compatibility with Microsoft Exchange, Cisco's (NASDAQ: CSCO) app adds several new capabilities. For example, AnyConnect offers the option of automatically establishing a "highly secure tunnel" when an extra level of security is required.

Cisco also said that IT administrators can use AnyConnect to control access to corporate resources on a per-user or a per-group basis. The software also gives IT the ability to quickly revoke access for a lost or stolen iPhone or for anything they deem a non-business use of the device.

A network roaming feature lets iPhone users to stay connected to the corporate VPN when switching between networks, such as a transition from 3G to Wi-Fi.

In a video demonstration, Cisco said it's easy to use AnyConnect on the iPhone to connect to any Cisco-compatible VPN head end, including its line of Adaptive Security Appliances (ASA), automatically. There are also optional manual controls.

The application also is designed to support all of the authentication capabilities in Cisco's ASA suite, including multifactor authentication and digital certificates deployed using the Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol.

The news comes at a time when the iPhone and Apple's newer iPad tablet have become a kind of poster child for the trend of consumerization in IT that has seen a growing number of consumer devices and services such as social networks finding a home in the enterprise.

"Cisco's AnyConnect Secure Mobility Solution is allowing users to enhance productivity on the go, while giving enterprises the ability to easily manage the security risks inherent to borderless networks," Shalabh Mohan, director of Cisco's Security Technology Business unit, said in a statement.

"The iPhone has rapidly become a device of choice for consumers around the world, and they are looking for ways to have this single device work for both their personal and business needs," Mohan continued. "The consumer influence is driving the need for highly secure enterprise mobility solutions like AnyConnect and our new iPhone app."

More than 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies and 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies are deploying or piloting programs related to the iPhone, according to Apple's earnings report for Q3 of 2010.

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


iPhone, Apple, Cisco, mobile security, iOS 4.1