Apple iOS 8 Offers Security Features On Par with the Enterprise

Posted 07/30/2014 | by Enterprise Mobile

The latest version of Apple iOS is expected to be available this fall, and that’s good news for enterprise organizations.

Apple is popular in the enterprise, both with BYOD consumers and admins responsible for mobile device purchases. According to a survey of over 300 IT professionals by Dimensional Research, the number of Apple devices in the enterprise has grown more than 50% over the last three years and could grow by another 25% by 2017. About 90% of respondents said they currently support both the Apple iPhone and iPad.

However, the sheer number of devices can also mean a lot more work for enterprise IT departments, especially to protect data on the devices and the network with which they interact. To ease the burden, Apple iOS 8 offers greater control over apps and devices. For example, iOS 8 expands on the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) to allow enterprise IT departments to permit specific apps to open documents from managed enterprise domains and in iCloud Drive. MDM settings will also control iCloud syncing of managed apps and whether Internet searches are included in Spotlight searches. IT can also incorporate PDFs or managed e-books, such as internal company documents or titles from the Apple iBookstore, into the iBooks app.

With iOS 8, enterprise IT departments can also prevent users from configuring personalized (consumer-oriented) restrictions, changing the name of the device or erasing all data. The Erase All setting wipes all data from the device after 10 incorrect passcode entries, setting the device back to the factory default. This feature can be enabled or disabled.

Password-protection will be amped-up as well, enforced on many more apps on the device and beyond. Going forward, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, Notes, Reminders and compatible third-party apps will require passwords for better data protection. A new feature called VIP Threads lets users subscribe to e-mail threads and view notifications on the lock screen. Users can also choose to have external e-mail marked in red.

Mobile single sign-on is another improvement in iOS 8. Through certificate integration with the single sign-on feature, users’ Kerberos credentials will automatically refresh, eliminating the need for users to reauthenticate.

For organizations that must comply with regulatory security restrictions, the new per-message S/MIME is a welcome addition. If enabled by IT, users can use S/MIME to sign and encrypt specific messages, ensuring that messages containing confidential data are transferred securely. iOS 8 will also offer Exchange auto-discovery, VPN on demand and per-app VPN, and much more beyond that.

Come this fall, Apple will provide iOS 8 as a free update to users of iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad 2, and several other versions of iPad, as well as iPod touch 5th generation. The net result should be a welcome boost to mobile device security, in addition to a wide range of other new features.

Want to learn more about the role of Apple devices in the enterprise? Read this.

Ed Tittel is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who’s worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written and blogged for numerous publications, including Tom’s Hardware, and is the author of over 140 computing books with an emphasis on networking, Web markup languages and development tools, Windows operating systems and security.

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