Google Mobile Apps Get Security Controls

By Nathan Eddy

Ubiquitous search giant Google announced the addition of mobile device management options for Google Apps administrators, including a requirement for devices to use data encryption, the ability to disable the phone’s camera and requiring passwords to be changed after a specified time interval.

Currently available to all Google Apps Premier and Education customers, the admin controls build on the company’s previously announced support for mobile device security policies in Google Apps, designed to help administrators manage Apple’s iPhone, Nokia and Windows Mobile devices from the Google Apps control panel. The policies are designed to let employees access information from their phones while helping administrators keep corporate data more secure.

Additional admin controls include the ability to auto-wipe a mobile device after a specified number of failed password attempts, ensuring old passwords are not reused and the ability to disable data synchronization when the device is roaming to reduce wireless overage charges. The policies can be accessed from the "Mobile" tab under "Service Settings" in the Google Apps control panel.

"It’s our mission to provide users with seamless access to their data while allowing enterprise administrators to centrally manage a diverse range of mobile devices," Google software engineer Dale Woodford wrote in a blog post. "We’re working to enhance our device management options and to expand our list of supported devices—including Android later this year."

In June, the company produced a Google Apps security white paper to help customers learn more about the security practices, policies and technology that support Google Apps. As the number of third-party hosted service offerings has expanded in recent years, the security of online services has become a topic of increasing interest to enterprises. These cloud-based services are protected by a multitude of security features, wrote Eran Feigenbaum, director of security for Google Enterprise.

"We store customer data in fragments across multiple servers and across multiple data centers to both enhance reliability and provide greater security than can be achieved by storing all data on a single server," Feigenbaum explained. "When only fragments are kept in any one place, the chance that a possible physical or computer-based compromise could result in the loss of meaningful information is greatly reduced."

This article was originally published on 2010-07-16