Check Point Harmony Mobile Review

Filled a gap in our security posture by protecting mobile handsets and our corporate network

What is our primary use case?

One reason we use it is that we didn't really have any control on the mobile side. We do have Google MDM, but we didn't have a solution like the one Check Point offers to protect mobile devices. Even with Google MDM, there is not much we can do without having something that can enforce security on the endpoint. So there was a gap and that security gap was our main use case.

How has it helped my organization?

The mobile space was pretty new to us. We had no control over it. Given the COVID situation and worked-from-home, we immediately embarked on this project to roll out this initiative. It was part of our strategic decision because when the government implemented work-from-home, only essential staff were supposed to come to work. We had to report every stage at which we reduced the number of staff on premises, because we're state-owned and our CEO reports to the minister. The solution improved things significantly in that context. We were able to give a proper accounting of our security assets and not have that gap where mobile devices are concerned. And we're able to offer a lot more security.

A lot of the users are using banking apps and didn't really have any assurance that they were protected. Also, with the pandemic there were a lot more cyber security attacks. We were sending out updates on what was happening, as part of our security awareness. It helped build some confidence within the staff in terms of what we were doing for our security campaign. Overall, it helped us account for all assets and protect them properly.

What is most valuable?

We like the URL content filtering, that is one of the most valuable features. 

It also enables us to see where privacy is a concern, apps that are leaking privacy. Having an idea of how these apps are being protected offers some level of security to the device and back into our corporate network.

The protection provided by the solution for all three threat vectors, application, network, and device, is pretty okay the way they're doing it. Their solution does not work the traditional way that endpoints used to be protected using local resources, when it's doing its scan. Sandblast is comparing the app to the app store and that is a very good feature. It's not resource-intensive. In terms of the networking, it does a pretty okay job. From the device side, we're able to see that backend information, including the app information, into the portal itself. 

It's also very easy to deploy and easy to manage.

When it comes to applications and network specifically, the solution's comprehensiveness and accuracy is pretty good. For applications, it has features pertaining to things like GDPR compliance. It is not leaking an end-user's personal information. There are some good features there. The only way we are able to see a user being identified is if there is a threat. Then that user comes up in that report, but that's only for those incidents. It's a very small minority. But it does a very good job in terms of breadth of protection.

The dashboard is pretty okay in terms of how you go in and you create your policies. And it comes with a very comprehensive policy. You have checkboxes or radio buttons to select the additional features. That's very intuitive. They just recently added some new features to their dashboard as well. It's pretty straightforward when it comes to where you: 

  • look for the threats, versus the administration aspect of it 
  • how do you drill down, the analytics
  • if there are any events, how you go all the way down. 

I find the dashboard is pretty intuitive and simple, compared to how Check Point has been deploying the SmartConsole.

And when it comes to blocking attempted attacks it's also pretty intuitive and simple. Suppose we see an app that has a particular threat. We're able to select and apply policies or rules on that particular app or device, and that can prevent the threat from propagating. We can quarantine it and address the issue. It's pretty simple in being able to manage threats, from a mobile perspective.

What needs improvement?

This is the first time we have ventured into protection of mobile devices. We have had many years where staff didn't have any restrictions on a mobile device. Since the migration from the BlackBerry Bell solution that we had back then, there has been a gap. Nobody was able to protect Android as well as iOS devices. And given that we were going into that space, we did not go in with the ability to do any serious lockdown or removal of apps. Mobile threat defense is not supported fully for Google MDM, so we're not using it within the Google MDM. It was supposed to be supported as of this month. We don't have Google MDM being supported by the solution as of yet.

It is a feature requirement, but they wrote me saying it was supposed to have been rolled out at the end of the second quarter of 2020, which would have been in the last month. We should have had something coming back from them so I wrote them last week, asking them where we are in terms of this roadmap. They are aware that it is something that I need.

My objective is to be able to have the MDM integration and to have some level of control over the asset itself.

Also, the one thing I don't see with it is that when I'm doing a scan on my network I'm not seeing my SSI ID showing up. I don't know if that means there's a bug or something we need to work out. But it's still giving me a good report in terms of the network scan and the device protection.

Another thing I would really like to see is a unified console where I don't have to use multiple devices or multiple consoles to manage my Check Point solutions. I am thinking of a unified console that could be linked back with some of the other solutions that we already have from Check Point, like CloudGuard. For all of the on-prem firewalls that we have, there would be one console, as opposed to these multiple consoles, and we would be able to link on-prem and cloud solutions to create that hybrid scenario. I haven't seen that feature yet.

I would also like to see support for other SIEM solutions such as Splunk.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started with Check Point SandBlast Mobile just when the pandemic lockdown started here in Trinidad, which was in early March, so it's been about six months. During that period of time, when the pandemic kicked in, and remote work and work from home and BYOD were a big concern, that is when we migrated to the SandBlast Mobile platform.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any challenges due to somebody complaining of the app crashing. I also have it on my phone and it hasn't crashed. I haven't had a challenge where it prevented me from doing anything. In fact, I was running SandBlast Mobile alongside ZoneAlarm, the free version. I had ZoneAlarm installed about six months prior to installing the SandBlast Mobile agent and both of them worked alongside each other. I never had a problem. I eventually removed the free version and I use the corporate solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't really explored the MDM integration yet, nor the other use cases we can use it for. At this moment, we're just looking to protect the mobile handset. There's not much of a use case in terms of how we can scale it. We're still under our license limitation so we're pretty okay with it so far.

From the last report about number of users, we rolled out to about 300 endpoints and we still had about 90 handsets that had not accepted the install. We continue to add more every month to that list. The users include executives and senior managers from the various technology groups, as well as users outside of technology in finance, sales, and marketing. We have had staff from every one of those areas install the solution.

We're 2,400 staff in total and we have only purchased about 350 licenses. We plan to roll this out in phases to the other staff. The challenge that we're having internally is differentiating issued handsets. Initially, we were told to roll this out to everybody, but after some discussions we decided we didn't want to go that hard with the users. So the users that have it installed will run it for about a year and then we can then roll it out to the others. That way, the others will see that the users haven't really had any challenges or any concerns with privacy, or that it slowed down the phone in any way. So we do plan to extend SandBlast to the other staff that don't have it.

Also, being a telecom company, our GM for mobile has been looking at a business model where we would lease phones to our subscribers. In that scenario we would have the solution provisioned and the security installed, given that this is our handset and, at the end of the lease, we would want to recoup some level of monetary value from it. So we would protect it with the assurance that there would be no data privacy concerns. That is still in discussion.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't had many issues where I have had to contact tech support. I have a very good relationship with the territory manager, and I have met and have a very good relationship with the security engineer assigned to this region.

The tech support and help that I have gotten so far is pretty good. I haven't had any challenges.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had the BlackBerry Bell solution, but nothing to protect Android and iOS. We had purchased AirWatch from VMware, but AirWatch is not the same as a Check Point's mobile threat defense solution. AirWatch was more of an MDM.

We were kind of forced into the solution with the pandemic scenario. We were in the process of writing a few position papers; there were a few reports that the government had requested from the CEO. So we got a little bit of pressure when COVID kicked in. We had to rush. We were very happy when Check Point reached out to us and said, "You can use our ZoneAlarm free for 90 days and you can deploy it to your customers, your subscribers, and to your family members, during this period of time," owing to the relationship that we had. When we got that, the CTO said, "Well, let's just invest in the Sandblast solution." That's how we ended up transitioning into this and deploying it.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. There were a couple of ways to handle the roll-out. We could send an email with a barcode for the users to install it and there was also an option to send an SMS. They could then install it and it was pretty straightforward.

Prior to that, we sent out a communication explaining that this was what we were embarking on, that it was an executive security initiative. We still had a few calls from users because it was a new area and people were very concerned. We had to keep reassuring the users that we were not spying on them, that we were just protecting the company assets. We explained that it was no different from a laptop or a workstation that the company issued. We had to continually reassure them that it wasn't an issue of privacy. In fact, we told the employees that apps were leaking privacy information and this would turn that off and prevent it from happening.

Initially, there were a lot of concerns about privacy with users saying, "This thing is going to spy on us." But we did not roll it out to every employee's handset. We rolled it out to the company-issued handsets. We took that approach and, at a later date, based on how we run this solution and how we get it to "soak in," we'll move to the other area. But there were a lot of concerns. 

We didn't find any complexity around the installation of the solution on end-user mobile devices. Without the MDM integration, we were not able to force the install and the user still had the option not to install, and if it was installed they still had the option to remove it. But it was straightforward. There weren't any complexities.

Our deployment took about a month or a month-and-a-half. The problem we had wasn't with the roll-out, rather it was about our being able to separate company-issued handsets from the list. We went to the team that issues the handsets and they did not have accurate lists. The audit they had done was a month or two prior so we only had accuracy in the list up to a month or two before. The challenge wasn't about the solution itself.

What about the implementation team?

We didn't use any third-party. We had a demo and we were shown how straightforward it was. It started off from that demo and moved straight into production. They gave us use of it for a period of time. We looked at it, played around with it, and that eventually became our production environment. It wasn't a scenario where we had to engage Professional Services.

Initially, there were about five people from our side involved in the deployment, but it ended up coming down to two to three people.

For maintenance of the solution I have three people who are all IT security specialists.

What was our ROI?

We have not yet seen any ROI because we still have a number of devices where it has not been installed. We haven't yet seen the big benefits of it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We got a pretty good deal and the price is pretty decent compared to some of the other solutions.

Check Point has always been a little high on price. People will need to have a good relationship with their territory manager or their account manager and will need to negotiate a better price. 

Compared to some of its competitors who are very good in marketing, Check Point has been very lacking. Their price sometimes tends to be notably higher than its competitors, but the quality of the solution is the difference. However, people mostly go after the marketing. They see that side of it.

For this solution there is just the support. There were no other costs added on to it. It is a straightforward license: unit price by X number of units and the support that goes along with it. There wasn't any other cost for us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We haven't really looked at any competitors. This type of solution was not something we were planning on doing within this financial year. SandBlast Mobile was not something that was on our radar. Owing to the scenario we were in with the COVID pandemic, the issue was how fast we could react to get to the solution onboard and how little paperwork would be involved. Given that we're a state-owned company, we have to comply with a lot of procurement policies and guidelines. If we don't have a vendor operating onsite, we are not able to leverage any solution from that vendor.

Check Point was already operating onsite; we had other solutions in use from them. Given that they offered a solution to us and had a relationship with our executives, that was what enabled us to fast-track things.

If we were to evaluate other products we would not have been able to roll this out in time. It would have had to go to an RFP, an evaluation process, and a purchase order. It would have been a good six- to nine-month process.

What other advice do I have?

If you have the opportunity, explore competitors to see how their products work. Also, negotiate your price with Check Point as much as possible.

The things that stand out from my experience are the ease of the deployment and the education of the end-user regarding data privacy and those types of things.

We haven't had many cases of false positives. One that we saw was in the following scenario. Let's say we had an app that came up as a threat and we applied particular rules to quarantine it. After we applied the rules, it showed up on the handset as if the app no longer existed, whereas Sandblast was saying that it wasn't removing the app. It turns out it really wasn't removing it. It just removed the app from reporting within the rule itself. That was a little bit of a challenge in wrapping our heads around it. We worked with Check Point to iron out that issue. So that was a kind of false positive.

We had to do it a few times in order to understand that the app was not being removed. The solution claimed to be GDPR compliant and that it was not removing any information or apps from the end-user's handset. We had to check to make sure those features were in place.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

Agent version:
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
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