ATandT Security Breach May Blight Business Use for the IPad

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-13

ATandT Security Breach May Blight Business Use for the IPad

It's too early to gauge what sort of hit the iPad will take among enterprises and business leaders who previously believed Apple's iPad was a dandy device for corporate road warriors.

Goatse Security exploited a security hole on AT&T's Website that enabled it to access the e-mail addresses of 114,000 owners of iPad 3G devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry.

That could cloud what was a previously fine forecast for the adoption of the tablets among businesses. Researchers at Citrix last month said 84 percent of 494 customers surveyed said they would allow their employees to use their personal iPads for work.

Eighty percent of respondents said they would buy an iPad for business use, with 87 percent of those surveyed claiming productivity tools as the primary use case. Moreover, 90 percent of respondents will use iPad for business e-mail as well as presentations.

Citrix found in a follow-up survey June 10 that 56 percent of 558 businesses polled would buy iPads for their employees to use.

"The fact that IT can safely provide access to company apps, data and virtual desktops without managing the device will make the iPad a game changer for business beyond just the form factor and features," said Chris Fleck, vice president of community and solutions development at Citrix.

A caveat: Citrix waved a carrot to respondents in the form of a chance to win a free iPad, which likely boosted users' spirits about the use case for iPads in the enterprise. Who wouldn't wax ebullient with the chance to win a free computer?

Recalling the original reticence for business users to adopt the iPhone instead of a RIM BlackBerry for business use, eWEEK took its own brief poll of industry analysts to gauge their feelings of the use cases for the iPad in businesses.

Analysts Discuss Viability of iPad in the Enterprise


Independent analyst Jack Gold said that businesses will look at utilizing the iPad because it works well as a browser interface for cloud-based applications. "But to say 84 percent of businesses will allow iPad use is not the same as saying 84 percent of businesses endorse the iPad in large deployments for specific applications," Gold told eWEEK.

"If you look at iPad as a large cell phone, then sure they will hook up ActiveSync to enable e-mail. That may be a corporate app, but it's different than mobilizing current apps that run the business. So I am skeptical about what this statistic really means."

Though he called Citrix's reports super-biased samplings, Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler said businesses are very interested in iPads because they've already done the due diligence on the iPhone and in many industries found it to be just fine for basic business applications like e-mail and Web apps.

"What's interesting here is that the number of business applications on iPad is more diverse than I would have first expected," Schadler told eWEEK.

"With a Bluetooth keyboard and with the ability to delivery presentations, this becomes a decent executive presentation tool, as long as you have charts in Keynote format. Expect a rash of PowerPoint-to-Keynote conversation applications to come to an iMac near you any day now."

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said her firm has found anecdotal evidence that that corporations are looking at iPads for sales forces as a replacement for laptops. "iPhone OS4 [now known as iOS 4] and the improvements to security will accelerate this even further."

Milanesi's colleague, Gartner analyst Leslie Fiering, added that the iPad will excel for sales workers whose jobs entail displaying and sharing presentations with customers.

Fiering added this caveat: "When the need for content creation and format fidelity (the ability to reproduce the exact same formatting, templates and spreadsheet formulae for enterprise documents) is high, an iPad is not going to suffice as the primary computing device. This applies to the majority of mainstream knowledge workers."

Of course, businesses will curb their enthusiasm in the wake of the recent security breach even if the attack vector was an insecure Web server at AT&T.

Goatse's security researchers used a script on AT&T's Website to get an AT&T Web server to cough up details of the e-mail addresses.  

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