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8/13/2013
01:24 PM
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10 Apps Blocked By Enterprises

Commonly blacklisted and whitelisted iOS and Android apps include DropBox, Netflix and Angry Birds. Why aren't more companies blacklisting mobile device apps?

Why do so few businesses blacklist apps on mobile devices? "Part of the reason is, IT starts to look at what they actually allow on the laptop, and they say, we don't block them on their laptops, so how can we block them on their tablets?" said Jonathan Dale, director of marketing at Fiberlink, speaking by phone.

When businesses do impose app-usage restrictions, "the number-one driver is reducing data risk, and specifically where corporate data ... can go," he said. The second biggest driver is using blacklisting and whitelisting to ensure that a device doesn't contain inappropriate apps, based on how it's used. "It could be a tablet in a classroom, or an iPad being used by hostesses in a casino, and they want to make sure that device is being used for its intended purpose," Dale said. The third biggest concern, finally, is curtailing excessive bandwidth consumption.

Roughly the same number of businesses that blacklist apps also employ whitelisting, which means allowing only approved apps to run on a device. The practice is most prevalent in the retail and services industries, which suggests the devices are being used -- at least in part -- for point-of-sale applications, customer catalogs, product displays and so on.

When whitelisting is used on an iOS device, an average of 16 apps are allowed.

Top 10 Whitelisted Apps: iOS Devices

-- iBooks
-- Adobe Reader
-- Google
-- Citrix Receiver
-- Numbers
-- Dropbox
-- Pages
-- itunes U
-- Keynote
-- WebEx

For businesses that employ an Android whitelist, an average of 10 apps are allowed.

Top 10 Whitelisted Apps: Android Devices

-- NITDroid
-- Adobe Reader
-- Lookout Mobile Security
-- Google
-- Skype
-- Citrix Receiver
-- Android Translator
-- Antivirus
-- ZXing (barcode processing)
-- Google Maps

Given that the majority of mobile devices entering the workplace are now employee owned, can businesses really blacklist and whitelist apps on those devices? Dale said the answer is yes. "What we see is that employees using their own devices are relatively tolerant of having some common-sense restrictions imposed on their device," he said.

For example, people with access to sensitive information might agree to have their camera blocked. Furthermore, dynamic policies can be employed to make restrictions location dependent, so that, for example, cameras -- or bandwidth-hogging media apps -- might be disabled when the device is within a mile of the workplace.

Unfortunately, businesses sometimes find themselves having to block certain apps because they can't block underlying device functionality. "There are certain restrictions that you're not able to push down to a device, and that could be dependent on the OS," Dale said. For example, iOS apps can't be selectively blocked from transferring data via the cellular network -- while allowing Wi-Fi access -- unless they're designed that way from the start.

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Mathew
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Mathew,
User Rank: Moderator
11/22/2013 | 7:04:55 AM
Re: IOS and Android Enterprise blocking
WHT, I think service and manufacturing topped the list because those industries deploy a large number of very locked down systems, for example for their field force or in manufacturing environments. 
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
11/21/2013 | 4:44:06 PM
re: 10 Apps Blocked By Enterprises
IT should not be expected to provide alternative sites in most cases...IT is not the creator of these lists in most cases, it is management, auditors, external audits, or regulatory requirements that drive the block lists.  For most of sites blocked there are no alternatives.  For example: we block Pandora to eliminate streaming excessive data to each employee.  A separate network or access method can be used to stream Pandora to a common music system in the office if desired. That does not degrade our Internet bandwidth for non business purposes. We could use the same method for Netflix in conference rooms, but not to desktops.  We do provide more secure data storage alternatives other than dropbox, etc. for sensitive data. 
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
11/21/2013 | 4:28:55 PM
IOS and Android Enterprise blocking
I was surprised to see the article state that Manufacturing and Service industries topped the list.  I would expect Financial services to top the list, but perhaps they do the blocking internally as our company does.  Every financial firm I know of has sites and groups/classes of sites blocked from their networks and cell phones. The blocked site lists are what I know to be the typical ones.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2013 | 9:25:54 PM
re: 10 Apps Blocked By Enterprises
I'm sure Angry Birds kills a lot of office productivity. But if I wonder if its creators feel sort proud when it appears on these sorts of lists. No other game tempts you to waste more time at work-- it's almost a marketing slogan.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2013 | 8:31:13 PM
re: 10 Apps Blocked By Enterprises
I like the idea of turning on app-blocking when in proximity to the office. But many work remotely so maybe that same restriction can be set to block certain apps when an employee is connected to the VPN. Quick sidenote: Why would you blacklist Google+?? It's not as if it's fun or distracting a la Facebook. Having a thriving Google+ company page makes business and marketing sense. It has proven to help customer engagement and search engine ranking.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2013 | 7:03:18 PM
re: 10 Apps Blocked By Enterprises
If IT is going to ban, it also needs to provide rapid, adequate support for alternatives. Telling people they can't do something without offering a compelling alternative is not conducive to employee compliance, satisfaction or, ultimately, retention.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
8/13/2013 | 6:30:20 PM
re: 10 Apps Blocked By Enterprises
IT Enemy No. 1 is Dropbox, but most employees use that for work purposes, not to futz around. There are few if any viable work uses for the likes of Angry Birds and Google Play Music, but Dropbox and Sugarsync are two different animals, even though there are legit security and compliance concerns about those apps.
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