Enterprises Need to Enforce Security Policies for iOS Devices

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2012-05-08 Print this article Print

As Apple devices grow in ubiquity, its operating systems become more of an inviting target. Microsoft certainly doesn't mind pointing this out, as it did with the recent discovery of Mac malware targeting unpatched Office running on pre-Lion versions of OS X.

Jeong Wook Oh, of Microsoft's Malware Protection Center, wrote at the time that this all points to user responsibility for updating installed applications.

"Exploiting Mac OSX is not much different from other operating systems," he wrote. "Even though Mac OSX has introduced many mitigation technologies to reduce risk, your protection against security vulnerabilities has a direct correlation with updating installed applications."

Are Mac users still relatively oblivious to the need to update for security purposes? It's hard to gauge if you write about security, given that we're largely preaching to the choir. But at least on Facebook, I still see plenty of anecdotal evidence that my Mac user friends aren't as on top of this as they could be.

But beyond individual user responsibility lies an even bigger issue, at least from the vantage point of the workplace: namely, organizational responsibility to get policies in place that keep the lid on iGadget security problems.

According to Zscaler ThreatLabZ's recent "State of the Web" security research report (they do cloud security), mobile Web transactions are rising in the enterprise and Apple took the lead away from Google's Android in that growth for the first quarter of 2012: Apple transactions now make up 48 percent of enterprise traffic, compared with 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. The research looked at 200 billion transactions from millions of business users across the globe that went across Zscaler's cloud.

€œThe popularity of iOS and Apple products continues to build momentum in the enterprise, and security solutions must cover these devices with consistent policy enforcement,€ the report says.

Just because an iOS device is coming into the workplace in somebody's pocket doesn't mean it's not corporate IT's responsibility to button down its security. Do a Google search on "iOS in the workplace" and you'll come across some good blueprints for crafting a corporate policy specific to iOS.

Here are some suggestions from a whitepaper released from Portcullis Labs, a security outfit:

  • Corporate policies should forbid jailbreaking."There is no guarantee that even if the device has been
    Jailbroken 'legitimately' that applications installed via 3rd party application stores €¦ do not contain hostile code," according to the whitepaper.
  • Determine what data should be permitted on the device. Don't let users mix corporate with personal data.
  • Always encrypt sensitive information stored locally on devices.
  • Control what applications should be run on the device. Threats often come from third-party applications, Portcullis notes.
  • User awareness and education "is paramount," Portcullis says. "Make certain that users are educated as to the threats to their own as well as company data."

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel