Is The iPad Secure Enough For The Workplace?

Everything’s coming up roses for Apple Inc with reports of 3 million iPads sold within 80 days of its release. By 2010, Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu says the company might sell 9.7 million units of the device.

According to a recent Bloomberg wire piece, iPads are starting to penetrate the corporate marketplace, with reports that Wells Fargo bank, enterprise software developer SAP, automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz are using the iPad as a computing device at work. With tasks like accessing work email, punching up sales orders and calling up financing options for customers, there’s a lot riding on the iPad to provide secure communication and transmission of data, especially if it’s data related to financial transactions.

Wells Fargo VP Amy Johnson who works on the bank’s online portal and mobile strategy reports that the weekend the iPad was released, finance executives at large companies (generating more than $50 million in sales) accessed corporate banking accounts using their iPads.

So is it a concern when BBC News reported that 400 iTunes accounts were compromised and credit card details stolen? Although the claim that “only” 400 of the 150 million iTunes accounts were broken into by a rogue iTunes app developer, many would argue that that is still 400 breaches too many.

Putting the two incidents together – budding corporate adoption of the iPad and a somewhat lax iTunes app screening process – and you’ll have potential for fraud, especially if hackers and crackers develop a keen interest in installing data logging malware or are cooking up plans to hijack these devices.

Security on the iPad?

The crux is that:

1) Apple users will likely install App Store apps on their devices.

2) Stricter vetting of App Store developers is likely to be ineffective, unless stricter screening procedures are in place to screen the apps themselves. Losing consumer’s trust will hamper Apple’s ambitions to combat Google’s Android OS as a mobile computing platform.

Unless Apple has a dedicated security division in place to take care of these matters, I’d be concerned if my bank or stock brokerage started using iPads for transactions.

Mudslinging at the affiliate marketing industry

One repercussion from these iTunes attacks by rogue developers has been the installation of adware or pay-per-install (PPI) applications in order to monetize via CPA marketing.

Already some news reports have referred to rogue developers and programmers installing “affiliate marketing applications” like affiliate itself was a bad word. Beyond simply anecdotal reports Symantic did release a warning over adware installs targeting iPad and Apple Tablet results. Perhaps ad networks should shoulder some of the blame for failing to enforce their terms of service and turning a blind eye to such activity.

While there’s no clear stats on how many installs have been successful, there have been reports that some users are experiencing pop-ups of the variety associated with pay-per-view applications in the course of surfing on their iPads. We could see a wave of PPV networks for iPads, iPhones and Android devices in the near future.

Tips on improving your iPad security

With the recent bad press regarding iPhone and iPad compromises, I’d recommend:

1) Doing my banking and stock trades on a desktop;

2) Consider installing an anti-virus and anti-spyware application for your device;

3) Setting up a Google News alert for “Apple security” to keep tabs on developments in the space.

About Andrew Wee

You can find Andrew Wee on Twitter @andrewwee

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