Android security with BizzTrust app

Monday 10th October 2011
Multifaceted Android: secures business data

As companies increasing start to provide employees with smartphones with the best security installed to protect their data, employees also want to install their own apps for personal use. The resolution to the conflicting requirement is being launched at IT-SA, the October Trade Fair in Nurenberg. Experts from the Fraunhofer Institute have developed device equipment software BizzTrust. This has two separate areas: one for business use, the other a personal area.

The company smartphone, the private cellphone, keys for house and car, wallet – the objects carried around daily become more numerous and is why people use the business smartphone for personal reasons. It is convenient, but employees and IT departments have different interests withIT departments understandably concerned about security.

Now experts from Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (SIT) and at its Center for Advanced Security Research, (CASED) Darmstadt have developed a solution for Android-based smartphones  'BizzTrust for Android.' 

The solution separates private and business applications on the one phone by simply offering two protected areas for data and apps. Users can identify whether content belongs to a business or a private application, and then store it separately in the appropriate partition and control access to the data during operation.

This enhances the security of business data yet allows employees to install as many private apps as they wish. Even if attackers infiltrated an unsecured app, they are unable to use it to access company data and the attack impact is confined to the smartphone private data.

“Our development significantly improves the security of today‘s mobile terminals at no cost to user-friendliness," notes (right) Prof. Dr. Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, director of Cyber-Physical Systems Security at the SIT/CASED.

A colour symbol shown in the display lets the users know at all times whether he or she is in the ‘red’ business or ‘green’ personal area of the smartphone. Two ‘clicks’ of the touchscreen is all that’s needed to toggle over to the other side.

To implement these two virtual smartphones in a single device, experts modified the Android OS so that all data from trustworthy applications is marked as such. A company itself will decide which applications are for business use, and who has access to what areas of company IT.

As rules may change over time, business apps are updated or deleted as needed as soon as the user links to the company network. Another benefit is companies can provide their own apps to employees and update them on a regular basis. Security is guaranteed and the smart phone’s software is checked before it can log onto the company’s network via a secure VPN link with any detected modification of critical applications being blocked.

Next development will be to equip smart phones with integrated smartcards providing additional security functions. Researcher at SIT are now teaming up with partner companies to develop tools to permit IT administrators to manage smartphones on an everyday basis –establishing a secure link with the mobile device for wireless synchronization and backup of the data stored there – or data deletion if the device is lost or stolen.

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