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VMblog's Expert Interviews: Avast Explains its Virtual Mobile Platform and Why Enterprises Are Paying Attention to Virtual Mobile Infrastructure (VMI)

Avast Mobile Enterprise GM Sinan Eren explains Avast Virtual Mobile Platform and why enterprises are paying attention to Virtual Mobile Infrastructure (VMI)

Last month, Avast Software launched its Virtual Mobile Platform (VMP), a Virtual Mobility Infrastructure (VMI) solution designed for the enterprise.  The company said its platform focuses on data rather than device, thus addressing very comprehensively the many challenges of mobile/BYOD entrenchment in the enterprise.  It is also said to protect both corporate information and worker privacy by ensuring that no data footprint is left behind on the user's device.  To find out more, I had a chance to speak with Avast Mobile Enterprise GM, Sinan Eren.

VMblog:  Avast, which is more recognized for consumer mobile and PC security, recently announced its entry in the enterprise market with the Avast Virtual Mobile Platform.  Can you give us some background on that?

Sinan Eren:  Avast ranks as one of the largest consumer endpoint security providers in the world, with more than 230 million users. Last year, it acquired Remotium, which I co-founded, recognizing that BYOD and mobile apps had become entrenched in the business world and enterprises need a new, modern approach to addressing the security and compliance issues that came with this trend. 

The prevailing mobile app security model of locking down the device no longer works. It's nearly impossible to keep track of thousands of disparate makes and models of mobile devices and ensure worker compliance with corporate policies. As my co-founders and I have a long background in reverse engineering software for a range of global companies and U.S. government organizations, we naturally honed in on a security-first platform. That's fundamentally different from the device-first approach of traditional enterprise mobility management solutions.

VMblog:  Talk a bit more about what is Avast VMP.

Eren:  Avast VMP is a software platform that protects corporate IP on mobile devices. It enables third-party or custom mobile and web apps to be used on any end device -- smartphone, tablet or desktop -- without being installed on the end device. Essentially, it's focused on securing data rather than devices. Apps are virtualized on a server and are streamed to the device. Since only views of the app and data are streamed to the end device, data can't be lost or stolen even if the end device is. 

Avast VMP creates an environment that's virtual and non-persistent each time, and launches a new mobile workspace on a device each time a worker accesses a corporate app. When they're finished working, that workspace is destroyed, leaving no data footprint on the device.

Securing data has become very critical for enterprises increasingly vulnerable to datajacking, or the unsanctioned appropriation of data on a mobile device from the data's primary owner. We recently ran a survey of more than 100 IT professionals in security roles, and 80% said their organizations enabled employees to access corporate mobile apps on their own devices, and 50% provided contractors or other third parties with mobile access to their networks. Exposure on mobile platforms will only increase as many organizations shift to mobile-first workflows.

VMblog:  What's the value of VMI over mobile security solutions that enterprises are currently using?  

Eren:  VMI secures corporate data and protects user privacy because apps and app data are never stored on a physical mobile device. It also focuses on delivering a natural user experience, making it easy for users to understand and adopt.

By securing data, VMI liberates businesses to gain the benefits of mobility, and allows them to focus on business productivity and performance.  Enterprises are contending with many enterprise mobility security solutions, which are primarily focused on the device. MDM solutions, for example, focus on locking down the device, but overlooks that both corporate apps and non-corporate apps on an employee or partner device are subject to the same risks. If the device is compromised, lost or stolen, the only recourse is to wipe the device, leading to the loss of both corporate and the workers' own personal data. 

Additionally, many users subvert many device-based EMM solutions because they feel their privacy is compromised.  It is true that if an MDM solution is installed on an employee device, their company can see all applications installed on that device.  We have customers whose employees carry two mobile devices to avoid IT "spying" on their personal activities.  With Avast VMP, the company has full visibility over activities in the corporate workspace, but no visibility into employees' personal activities.

VMblog:  What are the main features of Avast VMP and which companies do they serve best?

Eren:  The key features are a virtual phone-within-a-phone that streams data from corporate servers and leaves no data on the device, a robust policy engine that ensures ultimate control and visibility, complete separation of user and company data to preserve user privacy, and SecurePhone and SecureIM that enables users to make encrypted calls and send and receive encrypted messages to each other.

Any modern enterprise can benefit from Avast VMP, including organizations in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, legal, and financial services that need to move faster and be mobile while meeting stiff compliance requirements.


Once again, thanks to Sinan Eren, VP and GM of Avast Mobile Enterprise, for taking time to speak with  Eren was the co-founder, CEO and Chief Product Officer of Remotium, which Avast acquired in 2015.  He is a cybersecurity expert who spent 10 years reverse engineering software for global corporations and U.S. government organizations, and is co-author of the popular "The Shellcoders Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Holes."
Published Friday, March 11, 2016 10:10 AM by David Marshall
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