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Want an iPad? Need security? You can have it all with the new iOS. [Apple]

Client Computing | Posted on April 25, 2011 by Joseph Byer

For many decades in the world of personal computing, there’s been  that slice of the user population that has constantly had to defend it’s weapon of choice. Such is the plight of the Mac and the Mac User. Fear, uncertainty, doubt – all familiar foes in the discussion of PC vs. Mac, all laid to rest the moment anyone takes the time to understand the Apple computer and the Mac OS. 

Despite it’s enormous success as one of the most sought-after technology on the planet, the iPad is also faced with the demons of misinformation, particularly in the Enterprise. The number one myth surrounding the use of the iPad and other iOS devices in business is the perceived “lack of security”. It’s time to lay that demon to rest so that businesses can fully understand the powerful potential of this magical device to drive business value.

The latest offering of iOS 4 means iPads are highly secure on four crucial levels: Device, Data, Network and Platform. 

Device protection: the iOS allows the iPad user to enable passcodes, simple or complex, to lock out any unauthorized user who gets their hands on the device. The iPad also uses the unique passcode established by each user to generate a strong encryption key to further protect mail and sensitive application data on the device. Additionally, iPad provides secure methods to configure the device in an enterprise environment where specific settings, policies, and restrictions must be in place. These methods provide flexible options for establishing a standard level of protection for authorized users. 

Data Security: one of the lesser known feature of iOS is the hardware encryption which uses AES 256-bit encoding – and it’s always enabled. There’s no way for the user or anyone else for that matter to turn it off. The iPad can also leverage the password to automate a “local wipe” – after a certain number of passcode attempts is reached, the device will clear itself of all data. A Remote Wipe can also be implemented by the user or IT administrator if the device is misplaced. 

Network Security: Many of the standards already deployed by businesses are readily available on iOS. To start with, Wifi network support can leverage WPA2 Enterprise 128-bit AES encryption to access the company network. VPN protocols can also be used outside of the company walls, and the service is On Demand meaning the iPad automatically switches over to VPN as required by the application. When accessing the web, SSL and TLS mechanisms are enabled to encrypt the communication channel.

 Platform Security: This is where the real magic of iOS shines – all Apps for iPad are “Sand-boxed” meaning they cannot access data stored by other applications unless using the core APIs provided by iOS. (Apps have even been removed from the iTunes App Stores as updated versions violate the API framework). To enforce this and other standards of application security, all Apps are signed using the Apple-based certificate; before any App gets on any device it MUST go through this process. What does this mean to the user? As of the writing of this article, not a single App on the iOS App Store has contained any malware affecting a single iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch in a user’s hands. 

One of Softchoice’s leading partners in the security software space, Trend Micro, has introduced their Mobile Security for the Android OS platform – however they’ve admitted that they have nothing to offer for the iOS. In their own words, the tightly-vetted procedure for releasing iOS apps has led to a highly-stable mobile platform.

With these four pillars, Apple has managed to create a solid and secure platform for businesses to flex their mobile muscle. Today with 3000 apps classified as Business, 1000 for Finance, 2500 for Productivity 1500 for Medical, and another 3200 in Utilities, businesses and the users can rest assured that the Apps on their iPad are safe and the data is secure whether it’s resting on the device or passing through the air.

Next up – find out how to manage your iPad.

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