BlackBerry PlayBook and Apple iPad Found Safest for Enterprise Use

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There’s no denying that tablets have become an integral part of many people’s lives. Yet, as more business adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approaches for employees, a new study takes a look at the safest slates available, with RIM’s PlayBook and Apple’s iPad topping the list.

BlackBerry PlayBookA new white paper from Context Information Security, entitled ‘Tablets in the Enterprise — A Hard Pill to Swallow,’ reveals that the BlackBerry tablet is the most secure for enterprise BYOD users, thanks to its ability to effectively separate personal and work. While the Canada-based RIM has been struggling lately to keep up with the quickly-evolving tablet and smartphone market, the company has always been recognized for the quality of its security when it comes to software.

Compared to the iPad and PlayBook, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab fell flat, with Context citing some “serious security failings,” making the device inadequate for enterprise use.

While Context touted that all three tablets, which included a Wi-Fi-only iPad 2, a PlayBook, and a Wi-Fi-only Samsung Galaxy 7.0 Plus, offered relatively good support for Exchange ActiveSync, allowing core security features to be managed by a central Exchange server, the Apple and Samsung slates lacked basic enterprise-level management tools, meaning only a handful of tablets can be managed at once.

Examining the mobile devices in terms of data protection, software integrity and updates, access control and security configuration profiles, as well as backup and synchronization, the BlackBerry and iPad offer the most data protection and “damage limitation facilities,” according to Context. Despite this finding, the Apple slate still had its flaws, with iOS being vulnerable to new jailbreaks and lacking effective disk encryption, as iTunes commonly saves back-up files in clear text.

Furthermore, Context found the Samsung model even more problematic, revealing that it does not ship with a locked bootloader and that the disk encryption is weak and intrusive to use, with badly-written apps able to store sensitive data on the unencrypted SD card, despite encryption being enabled.

“It is difficult to ignore the growing presence of tablet computers in the home and workplace offering a blend of productivity, connectivity, and physical freedom which has never been achieved before,” says Jonathan Roach, principal consultant at Context and author of the report.”Our research suggests that most tablet manufacturers still have a way to go before their products can deliver the high levels of security required for use in most corporate enterprises.”

Those interested in using their iPad at work should read our guide on How to Turn Your iPad into a Business Laptop.

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