Google Enhances Android Mobile Device Security

Google today made it easier for mobile IT administrators to securely manage Android 2.2 (Froyo) devices from within Google Apps.

"Now any employee with an Android device running version 2.2 -- personal or company-issued -- can access their corporate information while allowing administrators to enforce data security policies," Amit Singh, vice president of international sales for Google's Enterprise group, said in a blog post.

Google already licenses Microsoft's ActiveSync technology and the new security and mobile management features don't extend beyond what IT can already offer via Microsoft Exchange or RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Still, Google's update now gives mobile IT more flexibility when managing devices from within a browser because they don't need to access dedicated servers.

With the new release, Google Apps administrators can enforce standard data security policies, including the ability to remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen mobile devices and to lock idle devices after a period of inactivity. IT can also enforce stricter password protection policies on each device, for instance by requiring all passwords to have letters and numbers.

Administrators can also selectively cut off access to corporate data on phones owned by employees, should they leave the company.

"This is good step for Google, but for the enterprise this has limited appeal because most big companies aren't running Google Apps and if you have Exchange you have all those capabilities already," Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at JGold Associates, told InternetNews.com.

Gold also noted that companies such as Sybase, McAfee and Good Technology offer additional management and security features that enterprises need. "What Google is offering is a subset of what's needed to address the major compliance requirements that financial and other companies need to follow; for example, I don't see any encryption in this new offering."

The new management features require that devices have the Google Apps Device Policy application installed, which Google said will be available from the Android Market in the next few days. The update is available free to all Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers and can be accessed from the 'Mobile' tab under 'Service Settings' in the Google Apps control panel.

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


Google, Android, Google Apps, mobile security, Froyo