Tablet PCs may be a boon to worker productivity, but they are striking fear into the hearts of IT departments and others charged with their management and security. They are especially worrisome as they filter through the back doors of companies and plug into corporate networks.
Managers are not so worried about employees using them as Web browsing client devices or personal notepads, but are concerned they may inadvertently be gateways for malicious mobile applications and code that can ultimately do some nasty things to a company network. Tablets like the Apple iPad can be a problem since users have ready access to a wide range of applications available from online ‘app stores’. While many of these may be laundered and deemed virus free, recent activities have shown that viruses and rogue code can hunker down in innocent images and seemingly harmless links. Anyone can publish apps to one of these online resources and inject harmful code into the program in the hopes perhaps scraping personal data from a company data base to steal identities, or deliberately bring a company’s IT operations to its knees.
One of the best ways to present problems is to admit tablet PCs are here to stay and strengthen your mobile policy to mitigate the risks and beef up the security safeguards for these highly mobile and flexible systems. These policies may restrict some types of activities on the corporate network, or block the in-company use of such things as built-in cameras. Tablets can even be routinely scanned for approved and potentially dangerous applications to nip problems in the bud.
The longest journey starts with the first step, however. So, developing an effective mobile device policy is a strong start to controlling any technology that happens to come in the back door of an organization.
For more on tablet and device security, see SearchMobileComputing’s interview with security consultant Nick Arvanitis, who plies his trade at Dimension Data, a multibillion-dollar global IT solutions and services provider. Also, check out the links below for more on tablet PCs and business concerns.