iPhone threatens corporate security: Gartner

iPhone threatens corporate security: Gartner

Summary: Gartner has poured cold water on the iPhone -- prior to today's launch in the US -- claiming the Apple's smartphone is a threat to corporate security.According to Gartner, the iPhone could "punch a hole" through corporate security systems if staff are allowed to use the phone for work purposes.

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Gartner has poured cold water on the iPhone -- prior to today's launch in the US -- claiming the Apple's smartphone is a threat to corporate security.

According to Gartner, the iPhone could "punch a hole" through corporate security systems if staff are allowed to use the phone for work purposes.

IT departments should be extremely wary of allowing staff to use Apple's mobile phone as it does not contain the necessary functionality to comply with basic corporate security, Gartner warned in a research note on Thursday.

iPhone pictures

Gartner's reasons to steer clear of the iPhone for now:

  • Lack of support from major mobile device management suites and mobile-security suites
  • Lack of support from major business mobile email solution providers
  • An operating system platform thatis not licensed to alternative hardware suppliers, meaning there are limited backup options
  • Feature deficiencies that would increase support costs (for example, no removable battery)
  • Currently available from only one operator in the US
  • An unproven device from a vendor that has never built an enterprise-class mobile device
  • The high price of the device, estimated at US$500
  • A clear statement by Apple that it is focused on consumer rather than enterprise

Integrating mobile devices and other technology into corporate IT networks, while maintaining security policies, has become an increasing problem for businesses.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that manufacturers provide tools that allow staff to integrate their device into the corporate network, the analyst group claims.

"Most handheld devices come with easy-to-use tools that enable rapid interfaces to business systems," the report stated. "When end users install such tools, they effectively 'punch a hole' through the enterprise security perimeter -- data can be moved across applications to personally owned devices, without the IT organisation's knowledge or control."

Gartner argued that companies should develop a "managed diversity" approach to supporting mobile devices. This approach effectively allows a wide variety of devices to be supported but with trade-offs, such as limited access to some systems, to maintain security levels.

But because the iPhone is a new device, and Apple doesn't have a history of building secure mobile devices for businesses, the analyst recommends that companies leave the device alone for now.

However, although Apple is not positioning the iPhone as a business device, the decision to use Ajax in the handset could make it a useful platform for enterprise mobility. Business and service providers can effectively create Web applications in Ajax and port them onto any device -- including the iPhone -- with minimal fuss, Apple claimed at its developer conference WWDC earlier this month.

"Developers and users alike are going to be very surprised and pleased at how great these applications look and work on [the] iPhone," said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs.

"Our innovative approach, using Web 2.0-based standards, lets developers create amazing new applications while keeping the iPhone secure and reliable."

Google's chief executive Eric Schmidt, who sits on the board of Apple, has also claimed that the iPhone is uniquely positioned to become a mobile platform for the search specialist's hosted applications.

"iPhone is a powerful new device and is going to be particularly good for the apps that Google is building. You should expect other announcements from the two companies over time," he said.

Apple was unable to comment by press time.

Andrew Donoghue reported for ZDNet UK from London

Topics: Apple, CXO, Google, iPhone, IT Priorities, Mobility, Security

Andrew Donoghue

About Andrew Donoghue

"If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism."

Hunter S. Thompson

Andrew Donoghue is a freelance technology and business journalist with over ten years on leading titles such as Computing, SC Magazine, BusinessGreen and ZDNet.co.uk.

Specialising in sustainable IT and technology in the developing world, he has reported and volunteered on African aid projects, as well as working with charitable organisations such as the UN Foundation and Computer Aid.

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www.greenwashIT.co.uk

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3 comments
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  • u-huh

    Lets wait and see. I bet gartner is using windows on the desktop, this was never meant for the enterprise and has the worst security record in history - yet look where it is now.
    anonymous
  • Who paying Gartner's "Lunch Money"?

    More Dis-information paid for by "FemtoSoft"!
    anonymous
  • More FUDD

    "A clear statement by Apple that it is focused on consumer rather than enterprise" - So why take a crack at this phone from a corporate perspective when Apple themselves state this is not the market they're aiming at. Sheesh.
    anonymous