Making Smartphones Smarter

Cellrox Ltd. announced today the signing of a worldwide exclusive agreement with Columbia University to license certain mobile technology developed at Columbia that will enable corporate IT departments to securely accommodate the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend.
 
The growing popularity of using personal mobile devices to access corporate network data and applications, whether at work or home, creates severe security and management challenges for corporate IT departments.
 
Using virtualization technology developed at Columbia Engineering, Cellrox addresses the challenges of BYOD by allowing both corporate and personal individual “personas” to co-exist on a single smartphone. Employees have secure access to data and applications necessary for their jobs, while reducing security and compliance risks for corporate networks. This also alleviates the need for employees to carry two smartphones, knowing that their personal data and applications are kept separate.
 
Cellrox was co-founded by Columbia Engineering computer science alumni Oren Laadan PhD'11, and Ranit Fink MS'03.
 
“Our lightweight virtualization makes it possible, for the first time, to securely run multiple virtual phones on a single smartphone in a manner that is transparent to applications and blazingly fast," said Jason Nieh, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, who oversaw the development of Columbia’s virtualization technology. (Laaden was his PhD student.) “For example, each virtual phone can run any of the applications from Android Market, including 3D graphics-intensive games, with no visible performance difference from native hardware.”
 
“Today, most companies face the need to give employees the freedom to choose their own device. But it creates enormous security challenges for IT departments to prevent leaks from these kinds of devices,” said Omer Eiferman, CEO of Cellrox. "By creating an impenetrable virtual wall between the employee’s applications and the company’s data and applications, we can provide proactive security and application transparency."
 
“Smartphones are now more powerful and popular than ever in business,” notes Calvin Chu, senior technology licensing officer for Columbia Technology Ventures, the technology transfer office of Columbia University. “We’re excited to see Cellrox put Columbia University virtualization technology towards solving the problems of enterprise compliance, security and maintenance.”
 
Nieh’s paper on mobile virtualization won the prestigious “Best Paper Award” at the 2011 Association for Computing Machinery Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, the world's premier forum for researchers and developers of the latest advances in computer systems technology. The paper—Cells: A Virtual Mobile Smartphone Architecture (PDF)—and the technology were developed by Nieh and his students: Jeremy Andrus, Christoffer Dall, Alex Van't Hof, and Oren Laadan. Visit cells.cs.columbia.edu for a video demonstration of the technology. 
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