It's hard to hear about AT&T Inc. (T)
these days without automatically jumping to the topic of the company's
acquisition of rival network Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile
USA. However, AT&T is giving the tech community something else to
talk about, announcing an unparalleled security
drive [press release] on its network's smartphones.
AT&T had a rough year last year, security-wise.
You may recall that in June 2010 "Goatse Security" exploited
a gaping vulnerability in AT&T web servers to obtain basic information on
114,000+ of AT&T's iPad customers. Just weeks later, AT&T
information on iPhone 4 customers due to a technical glitch.
But AT&T appears to be finally turning the
corner when it comes to security, and part of that is thanks to its recruiting
outside help. It’s teaming up with Sunnyvale, California-based security
and networking firm Juniper Networks (JNPR)
to provide security solutions to both its business and its individual smartphone
Mark Bauhaus, executive vice president and general
manager of the Device and Network Services business group at Juniper Networks,
describes, "We are proud to work with AT&T to help them protect their
most important asset, their customers. Teaming with AT&T to bring this
unique and comprehensive mobile security solution to market will enable a vast
number of consumers and enterprises to have state-of-art security features in
their mobile life and be better protected from malicious threats."
For consumers, the first of those state-of-the-art
security features will be a smartphone application which will come with
"anti-virus, anti-malware, and application monitoring and control."
AT&T said the app would be available later this year. The app is
based on Juniper Networks' Junos Pulse software, which is currently available
on Google Inc.'s (GOOG)
Android OS and Apple Inc.'s (AAPL)
iOS. It's unclear whether the software will be available this year with
handsets running Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows Phone 7.
The free anti-malware offering is a welcome
improvement as infected Android phones have begun to be used in
botnets and malware has popped
up on Apple's iPhone, as well.
In addition to individual users, AT&T and
Juniper Networks will offer a business suite to boost the security and
manageability of business handsets. The suite will include:
IDC senior security analyst Christine
Liebert praised the business offering, stating, "Enterprises drive
employee productivity by anytime access to network resources, but the
implications of data loss and malware proliferation creates real concerns for
enterprise IT security. AT&T’s vision and approach to mobile security is
the right one at the right time."
"AT&T is offering enterprises the ability
to remotely remove or encrypt data on mobile devices and to have this function
centrally administered. This should help businesses control what type of data
can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet, one of the biggest enterprise
AT&T is currently the nation's second most
expensive network, when it comes to most plans, behind
only Verizon Wireless (VZ).
If it's going to keep prices higher, it's nice to see that it's at least
giving customers more bang for their buck. Between better security and
better coverage than some smaller, cheaper networks, AT&T may just convince
some customers to jump onboard with its higher prices.