The market for mobile devices is growing rapidly with tremendous advancement in capabilities, applications and diversity of devices.
The process of securing data on small mobile devices has a direct impact on device performance. Security implementation requires processing power, which demands more of the battery on mobile devices. 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 end 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 to 36 hours to about three hours, 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 any mobile device that is operating wirelessly over a network, engineers must assess the security features or hardware assists that are currently available and 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 have to take security software into account so the apps 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, therefore, 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 takes into account 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. In order to achieve that, the Device Security Framework needs to include device-resident software, as well as 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 of the mobile device.
With security being a specialized domain, expertise is needed to implement mobile device security correctly 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 is director of product management and country manager, India, for Mocana Corp. He has more than 14 years of experience in networking software development and has a master's of engineering from the University of Mumbai, India.
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