Blog Post

Tall order: Bitglass says it secures corporate data and personal privacy

Many companies are trying to maintain security by funneling all incoming and outgoing traffic through a network proxy for inspection. That includes personal communications, and that doesn’t sit well with many employees.

Bitglass co-founder Nat Kausik thinks there’s a better way and his company, which nailed a healthy $10 million in Series A funding last March,  is coming out of stealth on Wednesday to discuss its new service which claims to lets employees protect their own privacy while boosting corporate security.

In mobile, Campbell, Calif.-based Bitglass competes with Airwatch, just acquired by VMware for $1.5 billion, IBM Fiberlink and Citrix’ Zenprise, but all of those products require that software be installed on the mobile device — which leads to management issues and user resistance. Do I really want corporate software on “my” phone?

In cloud, it contends with a number of “forward-proxy” solutions that require companies to set up their firewalls or devices to funnel all traffic — personal and business — through that checkpoint. That poses management problems of its own, Kausik said. And no doubt irritates Valley folks who are always on the hunt for their next job.

Bitglass’s idea is simple: If I sign onto my personal Gmail account, that traffic proceeds as normal, unfiltered and uninspected. If I sign on with my corporate credentials, everything I do will go through the Bitglass proxy for inspection. No software or hardware is installed at the corporate site or on the user device. Instead IT modifies the single-sign on for Google Apps (or whatever) to

There are benefits — if a device gets stolen or lost, IT can wipe just the corporate data from it without using what some see as cumbersome mobile device management and users can keep using the consumer-oriented apps they love — although they have to sign in and otu appropriately.

Even many CIOs don’t like the idea of their personal email being subject to the company’s security edicts, said Kausik who said he is on his fifth startup. Others include FineGround, which sold to Cisco and Arcot sold to CA.

Speaking as someone with both a corporate and personal Gmail account, I’m not sure I want to be signing in and out — but it probably beats dealing with putting intrusive software on my device.

The burgeoning use of SaaS and cloud services like Google Apps and Dropbox has not gone unnoticed in the startup world. There are dozens of fledgling companies attacking the need to secure all that data that companies rely on but doesn’t reside inside the firewall –– Adallom, CloudLock, Skyhigh Networks, SkyFence, nCrypted Cloud are just a few of many with their own take on this problem.

bitglass screen