Security Manager's Journal: Security flaw shakes faith in Apple mobile devices
And without remote management, getting patches onto devices scattered throughout the organization is hit or miss
Computerworld - Last July, I wrote about serious security vulnerabilities on the Android operating system for mobile devices, which could compromise data as well as the devices themselves, and how this led me to believe Apple phones and tablets were a better choice because they did not have the same underlying security flaws. Sadly, as with all "Apple is more secure" claims, that has proved false.
Last week, Apple released an update known as iOS Version 7.0.6 to repair a security flaw in the SSL encryption implementation that could allow encrypted traffic to be intercepted and decrypted, thus compromising private data. My company's private data, to be precise.
Updates such as this present several challenges to organizations like mine. First, we now need to have a process in place for getting critical security patches on phones, as we do for computers. And that's not easy to do. For computers, we have software that manages patches and can deploy an emergency security fix very quickly, with minimal intervention by system administrators or end users. On phones, we don't.
Remember the bad old days, before patching software existed for PCs? Desktop technicians had to go around to all the computers in an organization and manually patch them, or turn on automatic updates and rely on the end users to allow the installations. That was a long time ago. But with phones and tablets, that's exactly where we are today. We don't have the ability to push out patches. For the iOS 7.0.6 update, I had to send email to everyone with an Apple device imploring them to run the update as soon as possible. I then had to line up a technician to contact the less technically savvy users and walk them through the process. This was time-consuming and inefficient.
The second challenge is with our mobile device management (MDM) software. This software allows me to manage security settings on our mobile devices, but as I discovered with the 7.0.6 update, it can only enforce, not deploy. This means I can use my MDM software to require Apple iOS Version 7.0.6 and above on any Apple device that tries to connect to our network, but I can't use MDM to perform the installation. Inconveniently, this results in noncompliant users getting kicked off the network until they run the update. I don't think too much of a process that works by ticking off users.
Third, this security flaw has put into question the entire security of Apple phones and tablets. Where there's one flaw, there are bound to be more. And I can no longer believe that my company's data is always safe on these devices. We've patched this one hole, for now. What other holes are lurking, yet to be discovered?
More by J.F. Rice
- Security Manager's Journal: Trapped: Building access controls go kablooey
- Security Manager's Journal: We manage our threats, but what about our vendors?
- Security Manager's Journal: With Heartbleed, suddenly the world is paying attention to security
- Security Manager's Journal: A rush to XP's end of life
- Security Manager's Journal: Security flaw shakes faith in Apple mobile devices
- Security Manager's Journal: Cyberattacks just got personal
- Security Manager's Journal: Target breach unleashes fresh scams
- Security Manager's Journal: Giving thanks for SIEM
- Security Manager's Journal: Hashing out secure applications
- Security Manager's Journal: Why the shutdown is like the cloud
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Best Practices for Securing Hadoop Historically, Apache Hadoop has provided limited security capabilities. To protect sensitive data being stored and analyzed in Hadoop, security architects should use a...
- Top Tips for Securing Big Data Environments: Why Big Data Doesn't Have to Mean Big Security Challenges Organizations must come to terms with the security challenges they introduce. As big data environments ingest more data, organizations will face significant risks...
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threat The featured Gartner research examines current strategies to address new SSL cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. All Security White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!