In a series of related posts in June 2011, So You Let Your Employees Use Smartphones For Work? Are You Being Smart About It?, Are You A Security Threat To Your Mobile Device? and  And Yet Another Security Risk to Mobile Devices … Malware, we discussed a myriad of security issues related to employees’ personal use of work-provided smartphones.  Well, technological salvation from these issues may be at hand.  The solution – a split personality smartphone.  According to CNN, To Protect Data, Phones Develop Split Personalities, many companies are currently presenting their own concept of dual purpose smartphones.  These new security systems generally run on Google’s Android platform – one perceived as the most vulnerable to security breaches.

CNN reported that AT&T is in the process of introducing “Toggle”, a service that “separates an Android phone into personal and work environments, and the user can switch between the two.”  That is, the user can set the smartphone to either work or personal mode, with each segregated from the other.  Now that sounds like a great idea…

Perhaps a split-personality smartphone will solve some of the security issues raised by our posts above - such as the introduction of malware from untested or unstable apps, or the loss of data due to your child getting his/her sticky fingers on your phone.  According to Beta Byte, AT&T’s Toggle Enables Bring-Your-Own-Device Management,

“the personal mode functions without restrictions; the work mode is secured and can only run approved applications. Data for both modes is kept separate. The whole system is managed company-wide from a central Web portal. There, employers and IT admins can manage allowed devices and permitted applications, including performing features like remote administrative wipe.”

AT&T believes the “bring-your-device-to-work” trend is here to stay, and Toggle represents the “natural” solution to a growing security administration problem.  (AT&T said its Toggle service will be introduced by the end of the year.)  Enterproid, the tech company whose work Toggle is based upon, plans to introduce a version for the iPhone market.  LG, Samsung and Research in Motion (Blackberry) are also in the process of developing technologies and platforms with split-personalities.

Time will tell whether these new services will produce the desired result of separating an employee’s personal smarthone use from work smartphone use.  From my standpoint, I could see this becoming an issue for trade secret and/or misappropriation litigation.  If companies do not implement a “split” of personal and business use of a smartphone, will someone argue the company has consented to the employee’s personal use of company information?  Also, could this option simply provide another way for departing employees to pilfer confidential information?  That is, the employee could insure that he/she has stored certain company information on the “personal” mode of the smartphone…when the company moves to remote wipe the business side of the device, the employee could still carry away company secrets.  As always, we will keep you posted on what we hear.

In the meantime, have you heard of other smartphone technology that separates personal and work-related phone functions?  If so, drop us a line.