Lock 'em down: Soluto expands to the iPhone to help small businesses become more secure
I don't have a passcode on my iPhone. Anyone who finds the device can run their finger along the bottom of its screen and instantly access my personal and professional email accounts, Facebook and Twitter profiles, address book, and anything else I might consider important faster than you can say "slide to unlock." And I'm not alone -- according to a report from Soluto, some 37 percent of people who work for small businesses don't use any kind of passcode on their smartphone. The devices we carry around specifically because they provide access to our entire lives, both personal and professional, are woefully unprotected.
Soluto wants to change that. (What a coincidence!) The company is today announcing a new tool that will allow small businesses and personal users alike to manage others' smartphones. Now your employer could require that you have a passcode on your device, remotely install applications, allow or disallow data and voice roaming, or lock and "wipe" your device if it's lost or stolen. Soluto has focused on helping employers and families manage others' Windows devices since its launch -- now it's bringing something similar to iOS.
The security features are based on a typical Mobile Device Management (MDM) application, which allows companies like Soluto to build management tools for the iPhone and other platforms. "We didn't invent any hack or anything like that," says Soluto's chief product officer, Roee Adler. "What we did is we took a very heavy protocol and technology that was built for enterprises and gave it a small business touch." Instead of paying an exorbitant amount of money for a tool that looks like it was originally developed for Windows ME, Soluto is hoping that small businesses will pay 99-cents per device (Windows or iOS) to access a simpler-but-better-designed solution.
But what about the employees -- won't they resist their employer taking over their iPhone? Adler says that many of the people Soluto surveyed -- 42 percent -- who had their work accounts connected to their iPhone can see why their employer would want them to use a passcode. "Employees want to protect their business, and they want to have their work email on their iPhone," Adler says. They simply haven't added a passcode because it wasn't required by their employer. (It occurs to me that this is like saying that you want to be a good person but your mother never disciplined you as a child and the police don't follow your every move, but hey.)
Today's announcement marks Soluto's first expansion beyond Windows PCs, but Adler says that the company actually approached the iPhone the same way it might approach any other device. "We're basically treating it just like it was a PC," he says. There is no special plan required to manage an iPhone in addition to or instead of a Windows PC, and the service was designed to work similarly for both platforms. The iPhone has started to become as ubiquitous as a traditional PC, whether it's in the board room, the living room, or the back room -- why treat the two differently?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go add a passcode to my iPhone before someone comes over and smacks my wrist for not having one already.
[Disclosure: Soluto and PandoDaily are both backed by Index Partners' Saul Klein and CrunchFund.]