Eyeing BlackBerry customers, Symantec buys secure email app maker NitroDesk

With antivirus now dead in Symantec's world, the company is picking up the pace on mobile security.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Jason Hiner

Looking to scoop up BlackBerry enterprise customers, Symantec has acquired NitroDesk — a company it partnered with to deliver its secure email app for Android.

Symantec announced the acquisition on Wednesday without disclosing terms of the deal, which closed last week. NitroDesk makes a third-party email app, TouchDown, which allows enterprises to set security policies for email ush as authentication, encryption, and copy/paste restrictions.

The pair had partnered on a part of Symantec's mobile device management suite, which included its own TouchDown-based secure email app for Android. The product was bundled with Symantec's App Center.

While Symantec used Touchdown for Android, NitroDesk also has an iOS version released in 2012, offering the Apple platform an Exchange client that hived off personal data from corporate data. The app could be configured, for example, to only back-up corporate email, contact and calendar data to a business Exchange server.

According to Symantec's blogpost announcing the deal, part of its motivation was to deliver a secure email alternative for companies looking to move away from their BlackBerry devices.

"With the fate of BlackBerry looking grim, the majority of enterprises relying on BlackBerry are looking for alternative mobile business email options," the company said.

"To better serve our customers with a differentiated email product today, and to broaden our capabilities in productivity tomorrow, we have decided to acquire NitroDesk, a partner of ours for secure email for several years."

Symantec said it plans to integrate Touchdown with its existing mobile security offerings, such as app-wrapping, device management, threat protection, data loss prevention, authentication and identity technologies.

Existing customers of NitroDesk won't see a change initially, according to Symantec, but the company plans to share more details about any updates when they're made.

Symantec intends on rebranding the TouchDown app, which will for now continue to be offered as a standalone app in app stores.

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