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Securing the Kindle Fire for the Enterprise

There will be a lot of Amazon Kindle Fires out there, and users will want to integrate them into the workplace, says Alan Giles

The Kindle Fire will soon be in the hands of millions and for IT staff that means another consumer device to support.

Since many organisations have decided to implement a BYOD (bring your own device) strategy in 2012, it’s important to understand what security and management options are available on the Kindle Fire in order to protect corporate data which will undoubtedly find its way onto the devices.

It’s an Android

One of the first things that IT staff should be aware of is that the Kindle Fire is built on the Android 2.3 operating system. Amazon has modified the software so that it is focused on its content, but since operating system updates come directly from Amazon, you cannot upgrade the Kindle fire with standard Android updates.

Just like the iPad, the Amazon tablet does have the ability to enroll in a mobile device management solution, assuming the chosen vendor provides support for the device. The Kindle Fire also supports the ability to enforce a passcode and ensure it meets enterprise requirements such as a specific length and special characters.

The device can be remotely locked and wiped, which means corporate data can be removed if it is lost or stolen, but the absence of 3G and GPS support means that there is no easy way to track a lost unit, while Android 2.3 does not feature native encryption support.

Organisations which choose to implement restrictions on what applications can be installed on a tablet based on their internal corporate policies or industry regulations will be happy that the Kindle Fire does support the ability to blacklist certain applications, while IT departments can also push corporate or publically available applications to the device.

Corporate email issues

Those in your organisation who want to use their Kindle Fire to access corporate resources such as e-mail will be disappointed to learn that Amazon has not included native support for email systems such as Microsoft Exchange via ActiveSync.

This means you are going to need a third party application such as TouchDown by Ntrodesk. This may carry an additional cost, but third party MDM solutions have integration with these applications which allows for an automated, over the air (OTA) approach for email profile management and access controls.

There is no denying that the Kindle Fire tablet will find its way into the enterprise. Organisations that have already implemented a quality MDM solution should have the ability to enable these tablets to be as productive for their user as any other Android or iOS tablets.

Alan Giles is the EMEA Managing Director of Fiberlink