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Tablet Security in the Enterprise: Risk and Remedies

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Today, malicious apps and malware continue to be the number one security threat in tablets, followed by public Wi-Fi eavesdropping. Tablets can easily be infected by clicking on a malicious link or by entering company credentials into a phishing page mimicking itself as a challenge page.

While we’ve seen examples of the mobile platform companies proactively addressing malware attacks – the iPad 2 Smart Cover security hole fixed by Apple’s iOS 5.0.1 release and Android’s 58 malicious applications, which were downloaded onto 260,000 devices before Google remotely wiped the devices clean – it’s simply not enough. Not to mention, these remedies aren’t always applicable to tablet devices, with only a small percentage maintaining an always-on 3G connection, making it nearly impossible to implement a real-time security fix.

Two ways that mobile platform companies have typically remedied security holes exposed by malware: OS security re-architecture or stricter entry programs into app stores. However, the stricter the app adoption rules and implementation restrictions (so as to not allow a bad app into an app store), the less number of apps enter the market in a given time. While Apple has the luxury of highly scrutinizing the apps it approves, Android--coming from behind—has looser controls in an effort to balance innovation with security.

The recent Smart Cover security hole uncovered in iPad 2 and fixed by Apple’s iOS 5.0.1 release is the OS remedy; and Android’s 58 malicious applications, which were downloaded onto around 260,000 devices before Google eventually admitted it and wiped them from devices remotely, is an app store remedy.

Both of these remedies are not acceptable solutions for enterprises. Enterprise IT heads cannot wait for a new OS release or a re-evaluation by the app store when a malicious attack is siphoning confidential data from thousands of devices. The situation gets even more critical when malicious apps get on tablet devices. Unlike smartphones, most tablets are still tethered devices. Only a small percentage of them have always-on 3G connection through which a remedy can be applied immediately.

Accellion Secure Mobile Apps give enterprise tablet users the ability to securely share, edit, send and receive files in their workspace without the fear of a malicious app or link compromising their content and identity.

Accellion Secure Mobile Apps work in conjunction with Accellion Secure Collaboration to keep everything in an encrypted, secure, private container, even if a tablet user decides to download a file onto its local drive.

Should malware infect an Accellion Secure Mobile Apps user device, nothing is lost. Or, if it tries to access the tablet’s local drive, it will see nothing but a bunch of encrypted files. Users could be on an iOS, Android or BlackBerry device, and it will behave the same.

And then there is the internal threat, when people get distracted and leave behind their device by accident. If there is sensitive corporate data on the tablet and the device ends up in the wrong hands, it could easily lead to a reportable data breach. With Accellion, IT has control and management over the application, so if a device is lost or stolen, Accellion administrators can easily block access remotely and reset credentials.

Look for the discussion about tablet security to continue on this blog, but in the meantime, the more you use your tablet like a laptop, the more you should consider taking security measures.

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