Securing Business Data On The iPhone And iPad Just Got Easier Thanks to Good

Securing Business Data On The iPhone And iPad Just Got Easier Thanks to Good

Securing business data on employee-owned devices like the iPhone and iPad is one of the biggest challenges for IT departments when it comes to operating bring your own device (BYOD) programs. The mobile device management (MDM) approach taken by most companies is an excellent starting point because it aims to make devices themselves more secure. Unfortunately, it also tends to impose limits on what workers can do with an iPhone or iPad that they bought and paid for out of their own pockets.

Another approach to the challenge is to carve out a specific niche of secure storage on each employee-owned devices. Good Technology has always offered this mechanism for securing business emails and related technologies like shared contacts and calendars. This week, Good took that concept and made it available to iOS developers in a product called Good Dynamics.

Good’s products use industry standard encryption to secure business content. The company also offers an MDM service that plugs into the MDM architecture that Apple introduced in iOS 4 and expanded in iOS 5. This combination allows companies to secure business data on the device as well as the ability to apply any standard iOS management options. Like all iOS MDM solutions, Good allows business data to be wiped in the event that a device is lost or stolen. If an employee leaves the company, however, Good can wipe business data from that person’s iPhone or iPad without wiping the entire device.

This approach has multiple advantages, but the most important is that it allows organizations to scale back on whole-device restrictions. Since a separate passcode is needed to open any of Good’s apps and access business data, organizations don’t need to enforce complex passcode policies to unlock an iPhone or iPad. That can, and should, be encouraged but since unlocking the device doesn’t unlock any business data, IT departments can consider relaxing overall device security. This strategy has made Good’s initial products a good fit (pardon the pun) for BYOD programs involving iOS devices as well as other platforms like Android.

As native business apps have made gains for accomplishing a range of tasks on iOS and other platforms, there has been an increased amount of business data being stored by these apps on user devices. Most apps don’t use a secure storage mechanism for data, however. For some developers building reliable encryption for on-device data is too big a hurdle to consider. For others, there may not be enough return on the investment to create an encrypted data store.

Good Dynamics offers a solution for both developers and IT professionals. Good has built an SDK library that can easily be added to third-party apps using Xcode. As Herve Danzelaud, Good’s Vice President of Business Development, told me recently, the SDK is simple and flexible enough that one of Good’s partners was able to implement Good Dynamics features while on a flight from New York to California. That’s a pretty good testament to Good making the process fairly easy and painless.

While encrypting stored data is a big part of what Good Dynamics is about, its SDK doesn’t stop there. It also allows developers to build management options into their apps. Those options can then be centrally managed from Good’s MDM console. This actually extends past Apple’s MDM framework, which doesn’t offer control over third-party apps running on an iOS device.

The Good Dynamics SDK can be implemented in public apps available through the App Store as well as in private apps developed by companies for purely internal distribution and use. Good has been working with several partners to implement the technology in business-oriented public apps. The most notable being Good’s partnership with cloud storage provider Box. The result of this partnership is an app that can be managed to ensure cloud data is secured on the device and can be limited in terms of how that data is shared with others (if sharing is allowed at all).

Given the how commonplace personal devices are becoming in the workplace, Good Dynamics offers a viable solution to many challenges. The ultimate effectiveness will come down to how broadly the platform is implemented by third-party developers. Even if just a handful of companies that provide core business functionality sign on, Good Dynamics will have the potential to make an impact on mobile devices in the enterprise, but more apps based around the platform will certainly drive interest and adoption.

  • James Liddy

    I’ve always had problems with Good in any of it’s incarnations, I’m interested if this will end up being buggy, slow and problematic like their other implementations.

  • Alex Rosenberg

    As a user, the product is badly misnamed. It’s extremely buggy and slow.

  • Dennis Grimes

    Take a look at DME from Excitor, it does the same thing ( Secure email container )

  • Lai Soon Chong

    I must say I hate this product. Slow and Buggy would be a better title. It does not deserve this good review. Frankly it makes my iPhone feels like old Windows Mobile phone… Email and calendar loads extremely slow. Crashes 80% of the time as well.

  • Justin Neely

    I have used this app for over a year a HATE IT. it doesn’t update messages w/o being in the app. You cannot copy and paste. Can’t edit attachments. But hey I can read a message.

  • G P

    Interesting that several of the negative comments are in reference to an existing product and yet there are no released products based on Good Dynamics yet. The first one, Box on Good Dynamics, is going to be released in the next few days. So can somebody please explain to me what are these comments in reference to? Obviously is not Good Dynamics …

  • G P

    What product are you referring to? The first product based on Good Dynamics, Box, is not going to be released for a few days yet.

  • JG99

     You can set notifications so you know when you have new messages – same way you do for other iPhone apps. In addition, the cut/copy/paste and editing of attachments are policy settings that are determined by your employer. Good offers many policy settings and controls so that companies can set appropriate security policies for their organizations.

  • JG99

     You can set notifications so you know when you have new messages – same way you do for other iPhone apps. In addition, the cut/copy/paste and editing of attachments are policy settings that are determined by your employer. Good offers many policy settings and controls so that companies can set appropriate security policies for their organizations.

  • JF1021

    My company chose Good as a way to allow us to bring in our iPhones and iPads and it’s been great.  We just got a “Good” enabled version of iAnnotate for PDF viewing/editing/annotating, it’s super cool!

  • bronco5150

    My company is using Good for email too and I don’t see any big issues with my phone.  It does take a second or two for new messages to show up, but then again, isn’t the application encrypting and decrypting my corporate info?  At least that’s what my phone says when I log in.  I do love the fact that no one in my company can see anything on my PERSONAL phone other than this app.  Is it perfect?  No, but it’s better than having big brother look over my shoulder knowing that they can delete all of my personal info at any time.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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