Divide your phone in two personalities to keep data safe
Enterproid has launched a platform named Divide. The framework will give business users the freedom to carry confidential company data securely on their Android devices which are often considered less secure than the existing business favorites Blackberry.
Divide creates a walled-off environment in which it acts like a different device on your existing personal Android smartphone. “It looks like a completely different device, but it is actually running side by side on your own phone,” says Andrew Toy, CEO of startup Enterproid.
When a user installs the Divide app, it registers with the user’s work e-mail account and takes on that employer’s security policy. This might mean a password is required when flipping into work mode or that e-mail cannot be retrieved while roaming internationally.
When users do flip into work mode, they find a conventional Android home screen with stock apps for Web browsing, e-mail, a calendar, contacts, SMS, and making calls. Divide stores all its data—for example contacts and e-mails—in an encrypted storage area on the phone. It also acts as a kind of firewall between apps that run inside the work mode and the others the user has installed.
Apps that run inside Divide do not communicate with the Android system, so they can’t access this kind of data directly. When they want access to information such as a person’s contact list, they ask Divide, which acts as an intermediary. It won’t send data in the other direction, from inside Divide to outside it, and its encrypted data store is not part of the operating system’s own stores.
Despite this arrangement, it is still possible to develop new apps that run inside Divide, says Toy, although typically they will have to be approved by the employer’s IT department before someone can install them. “Divide essentially masks the Android API [which apps use to plug into the operating system],” he says. Modifying a new or existing Android app to plug into Divide rather than the Android system is relatively simple, he says. An app that manages to take full control of the phone could gain access to Divide’s data, Toy admits, but the data would still be encrypted—and besides, it is very difficult to do this.
Parts of this article are from Technology Review