An option that's critical for business data security but that's easy to miss
One of the mobile news items this week was the discovery by developer Gareth Wright of a vulnerability in the Facebook apps for both iOS and Android. At issue in the iOS version of the Facebook app is the fact that a user’s login data is stored in a clear text .plist file. Copying that file to another device will allow full access to a person’s Facebook account.
Facebook was quick to point out that this file could only be copied directly from an iOS device if the device had previously been jailbroken. Wright responded by saying that the portion of the iOS file system where the data is located can be accessed by connecting any iOS device (jailbroken or not) to a Mac or PC running iTunes and creating a backup. With the right tools, its fairly easy to search an iOS device backup or even the filesystem on a connected device.
This brings up an important issue for businesses deploying iOS devices or operating a BYOD program – iOS backups made through iTunes can be an attack vector to retrieve business data.
Apple's iPhone Configuration Utility can be a jumpstart for iPads in the workplace
For many IT shops, the iPad and/or the iPhone can be a conundrum. While iOS has built-in enterprise capabilities, they may not be immediately apparent. There’s also the fact that Apple doesn’t act the same way as most enterprise vendors. Apple does offer enterprise sales and support teams, training and certification programs, and a solid selection of enterprise-related resources, but rarely promotes them. This can be disorienting and frustrating to most IT professionals.
Often there’s a sense of urgency around getting iOS devices integrated securely that adds to this stress – it can be because executives want them, users are bringing them in and doing work on them already with no regard for IT or policies, or because there’s been a decision to offer iPads to specific users or groups.
The ideal beginning when faced with this prospect is to take a deep breath and then to begin breaking down the issues that need to be addressed and prioritizing and handling them. As with other major IT projects, you’ll probably need to develop stop-gap measures to keep things running until your final solution is ready to be rolled out.
Apple Configurator is a new free tool that let’s you manage iOS devices in business or education settings. The app can be used simply as an initial deployment tool or as an ongoing management solution. It’s particularly well suited to environments where iPads and other iOS devices will be shared among multiple users since it can be used in “lending library” fashion with users checking out devices because Configurator backs up user data on check-in and applies to a new device on check-out.
This guide covers each part of Configurator with step-by-step instructions.
Apple included a list of new features in the release notes for iOS 5.1, which became available on Wednesday alongside the announcement of the new iPad. It seems that Apple included some unannounced features as well – some of which enable more iOS device security and management when paired with a mobile device management (MDM) suite or with Apple’s new Apple Configurator tool for iOS.
The new management features seem to be primarily related to Siri on the iPhone 4S and they include the ability to prevent any use of Siri while an iPhone 4S is locked as well as the ability to filter out profanity. Additionally, as noted by the Intrepidus Group, a security consulting firm, is the ability to block location services on any iOS device.
Along with announcing the new iPad and Apple TV (and related iOS and app updates), Apple released a new tool for managing iOS devices in business and education. The new Apple Configurator app is a free download in the Mac App Store for Macs running Lion. Although it takes the sting out of managing iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches for smaller organizations, it won’t replace more full feature mobile management solutions for mid-size or larger companies.
iMovie and GarageBand — two of the most exciting new applications for the iPad — went live in the App Store yesterday, and although GarageBand is supported on the first-generation iPad, iMovie unfortunately isn’t. There is a workaround, however, and you don’t need to jailbreak!