RIM Edges Ahead On Smartphone Security


By a margin, third place went to Apple, which received an overall score of 1 out of 4, to RIM’s 4 out of 4

Research In Motion came out on top, in a security assessment of enterprise mobility solutions.

In a new report on the importance of robust security within mobile deployments from Lopez Research, president Maribel Lopez, a former Forrester Research analyst, offers an assessment of the security offerings from Apple, RIM and Windows Mobile.

Lopez rates each company’s offering by three criteria — device, network and transmission — on a scale of 0 to 4, and finally offers an overall mobile security rating.

Apple met with a goose egg on the device side, with Lopez noting that the operating system can be compromised, on-device encryption is lacking and that the iPhone lacks over-the-air updates.

Networking, Apple’s strongest category, received three out of four points. “Uses the same active directory based on authentication methods as Windows Mobile,” Lopez wrote. Overall, however, Apple received a 1 out of 4 rating.

“The original iPhone had numerous security holes that were improved by the July 2008 release, such as remote wipe, password policy enforcement and VPN,” Lopez writes in her overall assessment, finally concluding that, “Enterprises should proceed with caution and limit the use of iPhones, especially for sensitive data.”

Microsoft Windows Mobile fared better, in Lopez’ assessment, with an overall rating of 3 out of 4.

“Microsoft’s solution leverages the existing infrastructure, such as Active Directory, to manage Windows Mobile capable devices, meaning IT can manage the system with familiar tools and capabilities.”

She continued, “It also recently achieved common criteria certification EAL 2+ for Windows Mobile 6.1 in August of 2008. The combination of MDM and a VPN provide a reasonable security solution for firms that would like to use Windows Mobile devices.”

Devices was Microsoft’s lowest-scoring category, receiving 2 out of 4 points for reasons such as supporting OTA updates (good!) but not having on-device encryption (not so good).

The star of Lopez’s assessment was Research In Motion, which scored four out of four in each category, for an overall rating of the same.

“RIM offers strong security protection across the device, transmission and the network domains through tight control of the device, its software and its application control policies,” Lopez writes. “While other vendors have stepped up security efforts in the past year, RIM offers the most robust security solution.

In conclusion, Lopez states that, in truth, it’s unlikely that firms will use a single mobile vendor or OS for all their smartphones. More important that than standardizing on a single platform, she concludes, is attempting to “provide a consistent level of security across platforms.

The free report is available for download at the Lopez Research site — which was built on the Apple platform.

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