AirWatch 8.3 Champions User Privacy

The latest update addresses a concern among users: the fear that employers are using mobile device management to spy on them.

VMware today announced AirWatch 8.3, a major privacy-enhancing update to the company's mobile device management (MDM) platform.

A common concern in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments is that employers are using MDM software to access private user data and pry into the personal lives of their workers. Expanding on the AirWatch Privacy First Program, the new version of AirWatch helps enterprises and their employees get on the same page, privacy-wise, said Blake Brannon, vice president of product management at VMware AirWatch.

"The primary main purpose of our privacy education initiative is to dispel the conceptions that EMM violates a user's privacy. We want users to know that in BYOD environments, AirWatch can never access personal information," Brannon told Datamation.

AirWatch's mobile application management (MAM) technology separates work and personal data – including photos, email and texts – ensuring that AirWatch can only access and manage work data, he explained. "To provide more education on this, AirWatch 8.3 introduces a user-facing website, and a visual privacy app on the user's device."

Further enhancing user privacy is the new Privacy Officer role in the AirWatch console, enabling businesses to protect their data while protecting employees.

"For example, if an IT department is managing a fleet of corporate-owned devices, it may collect app information to scan for malicious app behavior. With the Privacy Officer role enabled, IT can only see an anonymous set of apps, rather than the user the apps belong to," Brannon said. Privacy policies can only be edited or assigned by the Privacy Officer.

AirWatch 8.3 also works with VMware's new Workspace ONE application delivery platform. The integration provides users with a single sign-on experience for all of their cloud, mobile and Windows apps.

Meanwhile, it streamlines MAM tasks for administrators. "Workspace ONE simplifies app packaging, delivery and ongoing management. IT can deliver updates to apps as they are needed so users always have the most secure and up-to-date apps at their fingertips," said Brannon.

AirWatch 8.3 brings with it an update to Content Locker 3.0, the company's mobile content management platform. Featuring an overhauled user interface for iPhone and iPad, Content Locker now includes a new User Hub for quick access to content, video previews and improved search.

Finally, AirWatch is publishing new wizard-driven industry templates that helps simplify MDM deployment, configuration and management for organizations based on their verticals.

The feature was inspired by industry roundtables at the AirWatch Connect conferences, "where leaders in verticals such as healthcare, retail and hospitality come together to talk about their mobile programs," said Brannon. "So we took the learning from our industry roundtables and looked at anonymous aggregated data of our 62,000 VMware EUC [End-User Computing] customer base and identified what we consider are the key apps, provisions and policies a customer's needs to deploy a specific use case."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Tags: mobile, privacy, VMware, AirWatch

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