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Could iPad Improve Your Enterprise Security?
As workers bring their consumer devices to the workplace and expect to use them, many IT teams have raised concerns over the impact of mobile devices on a business' security.
The first reaction to the trend of so-called consumerization of IT has typically been to ban smartphones and tablets. Slowly, companies are opening up and attempting to better manage the devices. Yet perhaps they should speed things up--at least in the case of iPads, said Josh Corman, director of security intelligence for Akamai, a provider of content acceleration and network infrastructure. Firms that switch employees from general-purpose computers to more limited devices, such as the iPad, could reap significant security benefits, he argues.
"When new IT comes out, it is not ipso facto secure--consumer devices typically lag," Corman said. "But in this particular case, the adoption is of something that is inherently more defensible and inherently less complex."
Corman, formerly an analyst at the 451 Group, looks at the more tightly controlled software ecosystem for iPads and sees fewer avenues for attackers to compromise corporate networks. The devices are simpler than general-purpose computer workstations, and that's a benefit for security, he said.
"We know that complexity is the enemy of security, but we accept very high levels of complexity in our compute environments," Corman said.
The reasoning parallels that used by Microsoft when the company embarked on its mission to harden its Windows operating system. A measure of its progress was the reduction of the operating system's attack surface area, a measure of the ease of which attackers could get access to--and exploit--critical functions. By reducing the ability for attackers to inject code into the system, Microsoft reduced the attack surface area and increased security. Similarly, simpler software systems--such as the iPad--used as part of a comprehensive attempt to reduce complexity in a company's computational environment could have a similar effect.