iPad Invades the Enterprise: How Big Are Security Risks?

Enterprise IT has had no choice but to deal with iPads as they walk through the front door being carried by executives. But one mobile apps expert says the iPad wouldn't have passed last year's enterprise security requirements.

Fri, October 29, 2010

CIO — IT organizations have come to a stunning realization: There is no stopping the great iPad enterprise invasion. Risks abound as companies must deal with securing iPad apps without much help from Apple (AAPL), says Julie Palen, senior VP of mobile device management at Tangoe, a telecom expense management software and services provider.

Palen's group develops software that helps companies such as Wells Fargo (WFC) and Coca-Cola (KO) manage BlackBerries, iPhones, Android devices and iPads—any devices connecting to a company's back-end computing environment via Active Sync, BES and Good Mobile Messaging.

The iPad, in particular, has had a rapid rise in enterprise adoption. More than 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies are deploying or piloting the iPad, Apple said during its most recent earnings call. Around 60 percent of Tangoe's new business deals in the last quarter involve companies that have already deployed iPads or are planning to do so.

But the iPad isn't really enterprise ready, in terms of manageability and security, says Palen, a 10-year veteran of mobile device management. She says IT organizations are buckling under pressure to support the iPad, even though the iPad wouldn't have passed last year's enterprise security requirements.

CIO.com talked with Palen about the iPad's unique path to the enterprise and the resulting security questions.

Julie Palen, senior VP at Tangoe

What are some cool iPad projects?

Palen: We're seeing a lot of companies in retail, medical and automotive putting business apps on iPads. iPads are a slick, cool way of interacting with the customer, and companies can leverage the iPad's cool factor in the buying experience One cosmetic company is using iPads as point-of-sale devices in their retail stores in malls. The iPad shows complementary products that go well with a customer's selection.

Similarly, on the automotive side, one of our customers is putting iPads into the hands of their sales reps out on the lots. The iPads show features that can be added to a specific car. A sales rep can do searches for the customer right on the spot. For instance, one of their other dealerships might have the specific car that the customer is looking for. If the customer has an iPad or iPhone, they can receive a notification when their car is ready, pay the bill online, and drive off with the car without having to deal with all of the paperwork.

Aren't iPads difficult to manage and secure?

Palen: We automate the provisioning process of how the iPad connects to your back end data. We provide insight into that device: the OS, available memory, what apps are on it. The fact that I can push out apps to the iPad but can't remove them is problematic for the enterprise. You have to either lock down iPads by restricting apps on the device to only those that you push—nothing from the App Store—or wipe devices.

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