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Analyst: Virtualization set to boost mobile security

Technology to help tackle problem of data loss from corporate mobile devices, but the tools won't exist until 2012, Gartner says.

LONDON--Virtualization will be a key technology to help companies beef up security on corporate mobile devices, Gartner says.

The technology is predicted to be used to break the ties between a mobile device's hardware and software so that standardized software can be downloaded on any handset or laptop.

This will allow companies to keep a tight security rein on the increasing number of different types of mobile gadgets by making sure that every corporate device adheres to the same consistent security rules, according to the analyst.

But the bad news is that such virtualization tools for mobile devices will not be around until 2012--so businesses need to start bringing in policies in the short term, Gartner said.

Speaking at the Gartner IT Security Summit here, Monica Basso, research director at Gartner, said more personal devices are being brought into the business space. She said this diversity--and the lack of security on such devices--is putting companies at risk.

"Technology over the next five years will allow convergence of (mobile) devices and tools, and virtualization is one of the many enablers to allow this convergence," Basso said.

The consumerization of mobile devices "is adding a lot of complexity to IT organizations because there is no one device that will fit the whole user community," Basso said.

Until the advent of virtualization tools for mobile devices, she said, companies should implement a set of policies to make sure that there is a unified approach and clear responsibility for mobile devices in the workplace. And, as a compromise, managers should give staff a choice between a few different mobile gadgets and packages, Basso added.

Technology chiefs are worried that sensitive corporate data is leaking out of businesses through lost or misused mobile gadgets, with 9 out of 10 chief information officers not tracking all the information kept on such devices, according to a recent survey of 200 chief information officers of companies in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States by mobile-device management company Mformation.

Gemma Simpson of reported from London.