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Think security, efficiency in handsets

Posted: 16 Oct 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile device security? device application development? efficient battery?

Kulkarni: With security being a specialized domain, expertise is needed to correctly implement mobile device security and avoid inefficiencies.

The market for mobile devices is growing rapidly with tremendous advancement in capabilities, applications and diversity.

Securing data in small mobile devices directly impacts device performance. Security implementation requires processing power, which demands more from the mobile device's battery. When security is poorly designed or wrapped around the application as an afterthought, it can drain the battery with features such as a polling mechanism or non-optimized security software that keeps the CPU running. If security is not implemented correctly onto a mobile device, it can drain the battery and negatively affect the user's experience.

According to industry estimates, when active non-optimized mobile device applications are open, the active battery life of small mobile devices can be reduced from an average of 16-36hrs to about 3hrs, which would be unacceptable to users.

The first step in correctly securing mobile devices should be taken in the initial design and coding phase--before the device is even manufactured. Taking the stance of "securing applications by any means" can prove irresponsible because the applications on mobile devices will continue to be extremely inefficient. Instead, when creating device-resident security software for a mobile device that is operating wirelessly over a network, engineers must assess the currently available security features or hardware assists that can be leveraged to reduce power demands.

Engineers should use device-resident security software that has been designed with the end user in mind. When designing applications, engineers must ensure that the applications don't continuously run on the CPU. Applications should take security software into account so the applications don't run and drain battery life when not in use. If an application is running in polling mode, it will keep spinning the CPU and thus, drain the battery.

The security software on the device must be event-driven and asynchronous. It must be designed with a very small code footprint and CPU utilization so it can execute tasks in a much faster cycle.

Securing mobile devices requires an increasingly sophisticated and holistic approach that considers the entire device and the wireless environment in which it will operate. The future of mobile power management requires an extensible Device Security Framework that secures all aspects of device data access and communications for any connected device, and is aware of power requirements. To achieve that, the Device Security Framework needs to include device-resident software and security capabilities delivered across the network.

When individual security capabilities are sourced from different places and are not well-designed to integrate with the device and one another, it can negatively affect the footprint, performance and, ultimately, the battery life.

With security being a specialized domain, expertise is needed to correctly implement mobile device security and avoid inefficiencies. Clearly, security can no longer be an afterthought in application development for mobile devices. Success depends on positive user experiences with mobile devices without compromising the security of personal information or data.

- Manoj Kulkarni
Director of Product Management and India Country Manager
Mocana Corp.

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