Consumer smartphones to get remote wipes and SIM swap alerts

But Windows 7 Phone not yet supported

Consumer smartphone users could soon be given access a range of advanced security features previously offered only to large corporates, after equipment maker Juniper announced new software for mobile networks.

Using Juniper's new beta release Pulse Mobile Security Suite, networks will be able to offer all users - including Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, iPhone and Windows Phone - the ability to locate lost or stolen devices using GPS, perform remote data wipes, and block spam and malware.

To be absolutely clear, Android and BlackBerry support is immediate, Windows Mobile 6.1 will follow next month, Symbian in December, the iPhone in the first half of 2011, and Windows 7 Phone (as opposed to older Microsoft mobile OSes) at an unspecified point in the future.

The platform also makes possible sophisticated 'big brother' parental controls such as the blocking of messages containing certain terms, and can even warn if a SIM chip has been swapped out.

If they want, service providers can also offer cloud-based services including automatic data backup.

With Pulse - which entered the company's fold after it acquired multi-platform security company sMobile - Juniper has spotted what it sees as a major opportunity.

Mobile networks happily sell people complex, expensive smartphones which increasingly perform roles as part-time mobile computers. Paradoxically, however, consumers are not offered the services to go with these products, which leads to a yawning gap in area such as security.

The service can also be offered to companies as well as consumers, which from the network's point of view represents a useful convergence of two markets into one technology.

"For the first time, using our Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite, consumers and businesses have a way to fully protect and secure their mobile work and lifestyles, opening up new applications and opportunities for the entire mobility market," commented Juniper's Mark Bauhaus.

Nevertheless, malware has been a subdued threat on mobile devices for a number of reasons not least the number of platforms in use by consumers. Experts and security companies with an interest in the area regularly predict that mobile users will be in for a rougher ride in the near future.

In the short term, malware will remain more of an anxiety than anything else. Dealing with loss and theft is probably the bigger use case.

With the future in mind, Juniper has also now opened the Juniper Global Threat Center to monitor mobile malware threats and plans to release regular threat reports based on data it collects, the company said.

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John E Dunn

Techworld
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