Guided Access feature can turn an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch into a locked-down, single-purpose device. With or without MDM software, what does that mean for enterprises?
Larry Ponemon, founder and chairman of the Ponemon Institute, an information security think tank, agreed that App Lock "could be a really good thing" and said that the typical elegance of Apple design probably has third-party vendors excited. "I don't think it's that novel, but I think it's interesting because it's Apple," he said, adding that the company has been "pretty silent on the security front" but is "starting to get into it." Indeed, last August saw Apple appear at Black Hat for the first time, supporting the notion that Apple might be giving IT considerations more than a casual glance.
Pescatore stated that "most MDM vendors can do this kind of application control." He added that App Lock is "catching a lot of attention because Apple has been so unfriendly to IT admin."
But he also said that something like the rumored iPad Mini has a form factor that would, unlike the current, full-sized editions, be easy to handle in one hand. Because Apple's tablets are so versatile, he asserted, a business could deploy dozens of different purpose-driven variations while investing in only one type of hardware. "Why have a dozen hardware vendors?"
Gartner VP Dan Blum said in a phone interview that App Lock's IT-friendliness comes after "Apple's been criticized for not having any real engagement with the enterprise market." Both vendors and enterprise customers would appreciate "more of a road map," he stated.
Blum also remarked that Apple presents a "paradox" to businesses because iOS has proven "pretty secure" but "has very limited hooks" for enterprise-grade manageability. Apple's security record isn't untarnished--but compared to Android devices, iPhones and iPads have been in a different class.
Pescatore said that App Lock could be a great cost-effective solution for smaller companies, but that "most enterprises are not gonna trust the platform to secure itself." Even if iOS vulnerabilities have not been a problem, mission-critical environments require granular control over the devices accessing their private data. It remains to be seen how MDM vendors will utilize iOS 6's injection of additional hooks--but with iPhone 5 sales set to explode, new products will reveal the answer soon enough.
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