“We’re telling IT executives to not support it because Apple has no intentions of supporting (iPhone use in) the enterprise,” Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney says. “This is basically a cellular iPod with some other capabilities and it’s important that it be recognized as such.”
During a media conference at its San Francisco headquarters today, Apple unwrapped a host of new features that are designed to make the iPhone more attractive to corporate users.
Six months is a long time in the tech world…
We’ve warned that eventually the iPhone would be appearing on corporate networks and that the new (at that time) devices would introduce vulnerabilities into the corporate network and take additional resources. What we weren’t counting on was Apple making overtures to enterprise networking – we had assumed that, much like the original iPhone was hacked to run on multiple carriers, that those who wanted to use the iPhone for enterprise applications would have to provide their own, messy, stop-gap solutions.
Back in January of 2007, when the iPhone was first announced, we wrote:
“That’s another question – will this device have VPN support so that traveling employees can get the information they need while on the road? And if they do – how do you secure the data? The iPhone, like all small devices, is easy to lose, and easy to steal. That makes it vulnerable to illicit access. Does the iPhone have cryptographic abilities to make sure data stays safe?”
Well, apparently, Apple didn’t take that as a rhetorical question because the fruit-based tech company is going to support Cisco IPsec VPN in the next iPhone update – the same one that will bring secure Exchange support as well as the possibility of an “iTunes Store for iPhone apps” – current Apple plans are to allow third party development but that Apple would have the final say on whether or not the applications could run on the iPhone. (Of course, clever hackers have already found a way around that.)
At any rate, the iPhone now seems to be competing directly with the Blackberry, which is good in the sense that competition in technical markets lead to innovation, and companies will have to expect new types of devices using different types of traffic, which – well, isn’t bad, but which can be frustrating, absent a network device monitor.
Personally, I’m a bit confused by Apple’s insistence to cripple the iPhone into only running “acceptable” applications on the iPhone, as A) it’s clear that people are going to use it the way they like anyway, and B) if Apple took the same attitudes with their Macintosh/OSX general purpose computers, some of the best Mac apps (Quicksilver, Colloquy, Transmission, Burn,) simply wouldn’t exist. Perhaps this increases the security of the device but at the obvious cost of utility.
It’s just rhetorical, and I’d love to get some comments on this, but is the tradeoff between security and utility a false one? I’m not sure – havening not worked much in the security side of technology – but it seems to me that if the iPhone can be hacked to make it more useful, it can also be hacked to make it malicious, and so the choice is not between security and utility, but rather between a lack of security with utility, or a lack of security without utility. Hmm… maybe I should ponder this more.