Absolute Software's edge is ‘persistence’ technology

 

Undeletable software from Vancouver firm not only tracks where a mobile computer is, but whether the right person is using it

 
 
 
 
Executives discuss the computer security business and their companies’ symbiotic relationship: from left, Geoff Haydon, CEO of Absolute Software, Marius Haas, chief commercial officer and president of enterprise solutions at Dell, and Kevin Peesker, president of Dell Canada.
 

Executives discuss the computer security business and their companies’ symbiotic relationship: from left, Geoff Haydon, CEO of Absolute Software, Marius Haas, chief commercial officer and president of enterprise solutions at Dell, and Kevin Peesker, president of Dell Canada.

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VANCOUVER — When Vancouver’s Absolute Software started offering computer security, it was mostly about ensuring desktop computers didn’t disappear from classrooms and computer labs.

Computer maker Dell was one of its early customers, but since then both companies have reinvented themselves. With its shift from a public computer company to a private company that delivers entire information technology services to its customers as well as hardware, Dell went from being an Absolute customer to being both a customer and a supplier.

And Absolute went from being a company that mostly safeguarded computers in the educational sector to one whose technology provides device and data protection in everything from health care to financial services. The company recently signed a deal with Dell to extend its Absolute security technology into Dell’s Android devices.

Security has gone from being an afterthought to a business imperative. Even before the recent Ashley Madison hack in which millions of names, emails addresses and personal and financial data of members of the adultery website were published, security was top of mind for chief information officers.

“The one consistent area where a CIO is asking for assistance is in the area of security,” said Kevin Peesker, president of Dell Canada. “There is a real awakening that has occurred because of public incidents with name brand global companies that have been breached by threats from outside of their organization.”

Mobile computing has led to increased demand for security.

“Some of the megatrends we are focused on really centre around the explosion of mobility, both in terms of adoption and in terms of its emergence as the new underlying architecture supporting enterprise computing,” said Absolute Software CEO Geoff Haydon. “It’s a very substantial shift.”

Haydon said companies and organizations need to be able to secure mobile devices and the information on them, including ensuring compliance with regulatory frameworks, whether in finance, health, defence or other areas.

“Our heritage was in providing device recovery services to educational institutions and our whole value proposition centred on our ability to recover a lost or stolen hardware device,” said Haydon. “In our business the value, continues to be in the hardware to a certain extent, certainly in the education community but increasingly, and especially outside of education, the value is much more the protection of information on that device.

“The cost of a missing hardware device is hundreds or thousands of dollars. The cost of a data compromise, whether it’s reputational, whether it’s in terms of business impact, whether it’s regulatory, can be measured in millions.”

Education still represents half of Absolute’s business, but now the other half is outside of education and centres on the protection of information.

Dell is among manufacturers that use Absolute’s ‘persistence’ technology, which can be embedded at the factory into the firmware of computers, tablets and smartphones. Once the persistence module is activated with Absolute’s Absolute Data and Device (DDS) software (formerly known as Computrace), if the DDS software is removed, accidentally or intentionally, it will automatically be reinstalled even if a smartphone has been wiped or a computer hard drive replaced. As long as the device is linked to the Internet it will connect to the company, even when it’s not on the corporate network.

“What we enable an enterprise to be able to do is to connect to that device to determine if there is a risk associated with the way that device is being used,” said Haydon. “If it has been left in the back of a taxi, clearly that’s a risky scenario.”

The technology lets a company’s IT or security team do everything from locking the device or wiping it, to determining how it’s being used and whether it’s in keeping with corporate and regulatory policies.

“We can enable a bank, for example, to say the use of that laptop is acceptable under these conditions: It may be geolocation based, it may be user name based, it may be what applications are being used by that device, it may be what IP address that device is calling from or if it is being used at a certain time of day,” said Haydon.

A device doesn’t have to be stolen to trigger an alert. In a hospital, for example, there could be a notification that a tablet is being used by someone other than the doctor it was assigned to.

“With this mobility explosion, for the first time an enterprise doesn’t have a wire they can follow to an end point device to determine it’s there, it’s compliant, it’s being used by the right person for the right reasons,” said Haydon. “What persistence technology enables is kind of a virtual version of that dependable connection.”

While Dell as an Absolute customer, the company is also a supplier, providing the tech infrastructure that has formed the backbone of Absolute’s business of providing technology as a service.

“What has been kind of cool is that as Absolute has grown, both within Canada and globally, we’ve been able to be there with them providing them scalable infrastructure ... which has allowed them to be very efficient in scaling out their business and being global from a Vancouver base,” said Peesker.

Blog: Digital Life

gshaw@vancouversun.com

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Executives discuss the computer security business and their companies’ symbiotic relationship: from left, Geoff Haydon, CEO of Absolute Software, Marius Haas, chief commercial officer and president of enterprise solutions at Dell, and Kevin Peesker, president of Dell Canada.
 

Executives discuss the computer security business and their companies’ symbiotic relationship: from left, Geoff Haydon, CEO of Absolute Software, Marius Haas, chief commercial officer and president of enterprise solutions at Dell, and Kevin Peesker, president of Dell Canada.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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