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Gartner advises caution on new iPhone's place in companies

Jaikumar Vijayan | June 12, 2008
The iPhone's security remains largely uncontested, from a corporate standpoint.

John Pescatore , another Gartner analyst, acknowledged Apple's focus on enhancing the security features and the policy management and enforcement capabilities in the new iPhone. Apple has narrowed much of the security gap that existed previously between its handheld and rival products, Pescatore said. But he added that the iPhone still doesn't offer quite the same level of security as either BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices do.

One major issue that remains for the iPhone is the relative lack of third-party security software, such as antivirus and encryption tools, Pescatore said. By comparison, such products tools are readily available for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices.

Because of the iPhone's relatively small presence within companies, it also has yet to be widely checked for vulnerabilities by third-party penetration testers or even by malicious attackers, according to Pescatore. "There's been no pounding on the software yet, or third parties who have been brought in to validate the security," he said.

However, Edens dismissed such concerns and said that many of the third-party tools available for other mobile devices are designed to fix "basic security flaws" in individual products. In contrast, the iPhone is secure out of the box, he said.

Nonetheless, the upcoming release of the iPhone 3G increases the need for companies to pay attention to potential security issues surrounding its use by their workers, said Amrit Williams, chief technology officer at BigFix Inc., a security vendor in Emeryville, Calif.

Williams said that Apple's new support for third-generation wireless networks and for Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange ActiveSync technology, which can be used to push e-mail to iPhones, means that the handheld is much more capable of storing, forwarding and manipulating data than it was before. But, he cautioned, those same capabilities also are likely to make the device a more appealing target for attackers.

"The iPhone is cool, and it is flashy," Williams said. But it also creates new avenues of attack that many enterprises are "just not ready to deal with," he added.

When Apple detailed the iPhone 3G, which will run the second-generation iPhone 2.0 software announced earlier this year, the company touted several new features that it said will make the device more suitable for enterprise uses.

Matt Hamblen contributed to this story.


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