Google announces new administrative controls for Android

Google this week announced that Android will be getting new administrative controls for enterprises, so that they are able to manage their smartphones in accordance with IT policies.

In a post on the Google Mobile blog, Google announced that any employee with an Android device running 2.2 or above will soon be able to access corporate data, while letting the company IT administrators enforce their security policies on the devices. Google says that the "Google Apps Device Policy" software will allow administrators to:

  • Remotely wipe all data from lost or stolen mobile devices
  • Lock idle devices after a period of inactivity
  • Require a device password on each phone
  • Set minimum lengths for more secure passwords
  • Require passwords to include letters and numbers

Some of this has been possible before, with Google Apps Premier allowing any device synchronizing with it to be remotely destroyed. This new software allows deeper control, and according to Google will allow administrators to "withdraw access to corporate info, which allows the employee to continue to use their device if it’s their own."

It's surprising this hasn't been around before now, but its a step in the right direction. The capability for device administration such as this has been built into Android for some time, but only 3rd party applications have utilized it before now.

The application, entitled "Google Apps Device Policy" will be available on the android market in the next few days. Keep in mind that it will only work with Google Apps Premier and Education accounts.

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13 Comments

Owen W said,

In enterprise, you wouldn't root.

Why not? If they ever switch from BBs to Androids at work...I would root my phone. May not apply a custom rom, but it would be rooted.

techbeck said,

Why not? If they ever switch from BBs to Androids at work...I would root my phone. May not apply a custom rom, but it would be rooted.


Rooting leaves you open to all kinds of data theft. Who knows what's been done to a rooted image.

techbeck said,

Why not? If they ever switch from BBs to Androids at work...I would root my phone. May not apply a custom rom, but it would be rooted.

And your phone would be immediately locked by the next admin.

Owen W said,

Rooting leaves you open to all kinds of data theft. Who knows what's been done to a rooted image.

Which is why you use ROMs from custom developers. And to be honest, given the size of the Android development scene, and the amount of clever people taking part in it, if a custom ROM was stealing your data, it wouldn't take them long to shame the developer.

Does "all data" include the OS? Or just all data other than system data? Or just corporate data like e-mail, voice mail, etc.?

If it's the first, I would say NO to Android.
If it's the second and if this can happen on my personal phone which *only* accesses corporate e-mail, I would say NO to Android.
If it's the third, I am okay with it.

WJrandon said,
Speaking for the average joe that connects to an exchange server just to keep up with e-mails and calender meeting request throughout the day, no thanks. Unless the employer paid for the device or compensates the employee somehow for their cellular cost; I'll just keep on rooting and bypassing the mandatory locks thank you very much... and while I'm sure that'll tick-off a lot of up-tight IT admins... Eh' the security of my mobile device is ultimately my own responsibility and we don't need big brother locking down a privately owned device.

If your IT dept have allowed your user account to access exchange active sync on your own devie, then they can and will (or should) force password policies and be able to remotely wipe your device - if you dont want that then dont use active sync, just use OMA.

Or if your a small company with no IT dept or a joke of an IT support company, then go right ahead and make worthless all the security they've put in place.

I'm with you on some level though, I really don't like the big bro culture but only in terms of government intruding on private life - if your using work equipment (either client or server) then they have a right, no a duty to protect their assets, its not spying - its security.

I think this is designed for devices purchased by the company. I highly doubt it will be for 'normal' devices that co. Next to a coporate network.

Hopefully this means that google will soon add support for proxy servers to access the Internet, it's one if the big things that puts companies off android.

bmdixon said,
I think this is designed for devices purchased by the company. I highly doubt it will be for 'normal' devices that co. Next to a coporate network.

Hopefully this means that google will soon add support for proxy servers to access the Internet, it's one if the big things that puts companies off android.

I concur about the lack of proxy configuration.

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