Engineers at Fujitsu Laboratories are developing an HTML 5-based platform for smartphones that designed to keep corporate data secure when accessed from employee-owned handsets.
The system, which Fujitsu plans to launch later this year, is one of a number that addresses this increasingly common problem: how to allow workers access to corporate IT systems while avoiding deliberate or inadvertent leaks of data from devices that are not totally under the company's control.
Fujitsu's system matches an app on the phone with a cloud-based server that delivers corporate apps such as email, sales databases and customer contacts, as HTML 5 applications.
The phone app senses whether it's in the workplace or not and therefore whether it has access to corporate data. The cloud apps are delivered over an encrypted connection to the handset, which runs them inside a secure application environment on the phone.
As soon as the employee leaves the workplace, the cloud connection is severed and the corporate apps are no longer accessible. And because they ran in the application environment, the phone doesn't contain any remnants of their use, such as cookies or temporary data files, said Kazuaki Nimura, a research manager at the smart platform laboratory of Fujitsu Laboratories.
At an event in Silicon Valley on Thursday, Nimura demonstrated the system running on both an iPhone and Android handset. Each mobile OS requires a native app to run the execution environment, but the HTML 5 cloud apps will run across all platforms.
In the demonstration, access to the corporate apps was enabled in the iPhone when it came within reach of a simulated company Wi-Fi signal, while the Android phone had the option of being switched on by either Wi-Fi detection or through a tap on an NFC (near field communication) card.
As soon as the phones detected the network or NFC card, they switched to work mode, which brought up a new home screen with different set of apps. While in work mode, access to personal apps could be determined by a company security policy, said Nimura.
In the demonstration, work mode also disabled the phone's camera.
When the phone lost the network connection or tapped on the NFC card, it was returned to its conventional home screen and stricter corporate security policies were removed.
The same system could also be used to deliver corporate apps to workers outside of the office, maintaining the security policies in place for access and use of the data.
Fujitsu hopes to release the technology as its Mobile Enterprise Application Platform later this year.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org