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Better Takes on Good's Mobile Security Solutions

Better enables corporations to automatically secure the 2 million+ third-party mobile apps available today in the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Security teams traditionally secure mobile applications one at a time, dedicating resources to determine the risks and build appropriate protections. This is not an easy task when the average financial service firm is exposed to more than 1,600 apps (and counting). The chase never ends.

So, what if a solution could do the legwork instead? That is the goal of Better, a mobile security solution that allows corporations to automatically secure any application, be it on an Apple or Samsung device, without coding or assigning someone to determine the risks. It can be applied to any application on the market, which is helpful, given 50,000 apps are added every month to the Apple and Google stores.

The concept of better is based on three main beliefs:

  1. The solutions should fit both groups, the corporate and the employees.
  2. If you want to secure something, you have to first identify what the risks are.
  3. If you want to secure a mobile application, you really have to teach the app how to secure itself.

Based on those concepts, Senai Ahderom, founder at Better, along with a group of seven or eight developers spent two years creating their solution. The product offers three main components:

  1. The Analyzer -- This runs through each application to understand how each one works, as well as to uncover the app's risks.
  2. The Shield -- Once you know where risk is, the shield ties it with any security controls the corporation wants. This could be anything from encryption to geofencing.
  3. On Demand Workspace -- This allows corporate to push the applications it wants employees to use. The end-user clicks on the application he or she wants to use, it is sent automatically to the Analyzer, then to the Shield where it is equipped with corporate-standard security management and control tools.

When it comes down to it, end-users can select and secure any mobile apps for the business directly from their mobile devices with two clicks and third-party login.

"There is a big difference between the hundreds of applications everybody uses like Salesforce and the many applications that exist in the app store that everyone downloads," says Azi Cohen, member of New York Angles and chairman at Better. "We feel very strongly about this approach, and we've been out with clients getting very positive reactions. They have never seen something that creates security in such an on-demand mode at a corporate level, and that's the point."

Good versus Better
Better competes with existing solutions, including the globally recognized mobile security solution Good. Good, like most of the other first-generation mobile security solutions, focuses on securing the device. It makes sure the OS is updated, distributes corporate apps to the device, and wipes it out when the user loses it.

Such solutions have very limited means to secure third-party specific applications, Cohen contends. They force the organization that buys them to either use SDKs that may require programmers to do manual work or use wrappers that basically alter the code and therefore only fit home-grown apps.

"The end results are that first-generation security solutions provide OK support to the corporate apps and a handful of apps that everyone uses like Sales Force and SAP Portal. We estimate this number to be around 150 apps for all vendors together. But what about the thousands of productivity tools picked and used by employees such as  Dropbox, Evertnote, Org Chart management (HR), Fastcase (legal), Lead tracking (sales), and project management apps? We are the only one to provide a solution that supports the home-grown and third-party apps, and we do that at the speed of the business people (on demand)."

For those wondering, "Yes," says Cohen. "We picked Better because Better is better than Good."

Hitting the road
Better's founders came from large companies where they saw applications being used in risky ways on a daily basis. "The corporation didn't know, and there was nobody to even ask," says Cohen. "The corporation I was in, they had a mobile security solution, but it didn't support all the use cases."

So more than two years ago a team of programers was assembled to build the security product that would become known as Better. "It's a lot of code. There are a lot of capabilities, and the product is extremely rich. They've been working on this for two years, and now we are now hitting the road with it."

Since its launch, Better has found great traction within the medical market, especially with hospitals. A lot of sensitive patient information means there's a high demand for tools to keep data in network. Patients, too, get tablets for entertainment and access to their records. Once a patient leaves the station, everything has to be wiped out for the next user.

"We worked with a client who worked in a very secure area where they weren't allowed to take pictures," says Ahderom. "The idea is not to block your camera or kill it, the goal is to prevent it from working in a certain geographical area. That's a big difference. We basically allow employees to use any application, see where the security holes are, and add the right defenses to allow the user in the institution to fit the corporate needs."

Beyond hospitals, Better's new focus is on government and capital markets where companies are equally (if not more) sensitive to data leakages. The firm just closed its first round of funding for half a million dollars and is seeking around 1 million in the next round.

 

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Becca Lipman is Senior Editor for Wall Street & Technology. She writes in-depth news articles with a focus on big data and compliance in the capital markets. She regularly meets with information technology leaders and innovators and writes about cloud computing, datacenters, ... View Full Bio

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Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
5/20/2014 | 9:56:53 PM
Good vs Better...who is best?
Better is a clever name for a mobile app/platform security company, especially since one of the more established providers is named Good. I'm sure the founders did this intentionally (thank you...it makes writing clever headlines, easy).


I wonder is banks need both Good and Better, or are they willing to bring in another mobile app security platform?
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 10:26:23 AM
Re: Good vs Better...who is best?
Soon we may be writing about "Best" - I do love clever competition.

Security is a moving target. I've heard multiple appraoches are more effective than a single tactic, even if the one is an adaptive approach like Better of Best. I wonder if using both Better and Best hits on some sort of holy grail of mobile security. 
Dane Atkinson
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Dane Atkinson,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/30/2014 | 3:25:22 AM
Re: Good vs Better...who is best?
In an iPhone, for installing every app, it generates a unique ID that is co-related to the registered app Id. Don't you think the process is more secure and Google should implement this as best mobile security practices. Although it has his crowned Linux platform. 
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 9:20:54 AM
Interesting Nameology
Did Better name themselves that as a direct reference to Good? Either way, more competition in the marketplace is a good thing.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 10:29:02 AM
Re: Interesting Nameology
Bryan, they sure did! Great way to step into the ring, don't you think? In an ideal world, new security solutions won't be seen as competition, but instead as collaborators. 
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
5/22/2014 | 1:16:28 PM
Re: Interesting Nameology
True, it would have been great to see the two companies work together and form some kind of mega-solution - though I do love the competitive word play. 
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 9:48:38 AM
Moving Target
It's certainly not surprising that there are challengers emerging to Good -- after all, security is the proverbial moving target and even more so now with the rise of mobile/mobile apps and cloud-based systems. As the Better folks have noted, consumerization is another factor -- you really can't stop employees at all levels from using their mobile devices to do their jobs, so then it becomes a question of, what can you do to make sure the apps they are using are secure, and what do you do to secure corporate assets?
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/21/2014 | 10:14:10 AM
MDM Rhetoric
The quote about Good securing the device, instead of the apps or data, is kinda funny. The folks at Good would deny this vehemently, and say exactly the same thing about someone else. This is an ongoing game in the mobile device management market; for the last couple years, almost every player has tried to claim "we secure your data and apps, but other products only secure your device," in an attempt at differentiation.

I don't know much about Better, but Good has an excellent reputation, certainly for iOS devices. That said, these pure-play device management firms might get pushed into niche/specialty territory soon, since big players like Microsoft are investing more and more in device and data management tools.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
5/21/2014 | 11:01:56 AM
Unknown Risks
Important to note that the creaotrs of Better realized the risks that companies are exposing themselves to with employees using so many of the productivity apps that you mention in the article. I don't think a lot of comapnies realize how much their employees sometimes rely on thsoe apps to help them throughout the work day, or realize how many potential risks that is exposing them to. Good to hear that someone decided to do something about this issue in a way that sounds like it doesn't harm the user experience much.
Becca L
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Becca L,
User Rank: Author
5/30/2014 | 2:24:50 PM
Re: Unknown Risks
IT can't possibly keep up with the market place for apps, and as seeon as they secure any app it falls out of vogue for 4 others with sleeker interfaces. There's also huge issues around Terms of Service that IT may not be prepared to comb through for all the uniquely worded disclosures about data rights.

A few companies like SkyHigh ar rating cloud apps for enterprise security readiness for this purposes, in fact this whole space of udnerstanding app risk is exploding. On an enterprise leve it's getting very interesting!

Everyone I've spoken to in the space seems to be on the same page that whatever solution there needs to be, it can't impact user experience. (woohoo!)
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