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:
- The solutions should fit both groups, the corporate and the employees.
- If you want to secure something, you have to first identify what the risks are.
- 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:
- The Analyzer -- This runs through each application to understand how each one works, as well as to uncover the app's risks.
- 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.
- 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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