OS X Yosemite and iOS 8's enticements could also entrap

Apple's seamless cross-device experience will appeal to business users, but security experts warn integration poses new risks

It should come as no surprise that WWDC was a decidedly software-focused show, despite fervent wishes of Apple users and pundits that a new iPhone, iWatch, or iTV would get a look in. It is the Worldwide Developers Conference, after all. While dashing media hopes, Apple instead showed how it is bringing together the forthcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8, blurring the lines between desktop and mobile, and in the process strengthening their enterprise appeal. But some security experts are voicing concern about the potential to abuse all that newfound sharing.

A slide in the WWDC keynote entitled "iOS 8 features we didn't have time to talk about" gave a glimpse at new iOS features sure to appeal to businesses -- particularly road warriors. New settings in iOS 8 let iPhone users know which apps are chewing through their battery life; automatically create hotspots that iPad and Mac users can use when out of Wi-Fi range and an iPhone is nearby; and provide notifications alerting users to how long it will take to get to an appointment in their Calendar.

Other enhancements designed to boost Apple's stock with enterprise IT include new security features such as message-specific encryption, passcode lock for more apps, and mobile device management tools that give administrators control over files downloaded from corporate domains using Safari and documents stored in iCloud.

Business users will appreciate the time-saving improvements. For instance, the Mail app now includes the ability to designate individual mail threads as VIP and thus easily track updates to a conversation. Also, new Calendar functionality allows an easier view of coworkers' availability when scheduling meetings and brings Calendar closer to the corporate desktop-standard Outlook.

But the big innovation unveiled at WWDC centers on a set of services Apple calls Continuity that let Macs, iPads, and iPhones "interact automagically." As InfoWorld's Galen Gruman says, "There are still those people who believe mobile is mobile and desktop is desktop and the two should only meet under chaperoned circumstances, but they're living in the past. Apple's OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 show the future."

Apple's new Handoff feature -- an extension of the AirDrop cross-device sharing introduced in iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks -- automatically syncs files on Mac and iOS devices located near each other, so it's possible to quickly share files between devices. Handoff, which can be used with virtually all major Apple apps and will be available to third-party developers via an API, lets iOS users start their work on an iPhone or iPad and finish it on a MacBook or Mac, or vice versa.

However, as CSO observes, "Apple's march toward seamless integration between the Mac, iPhone, and iPad worries some security experts who say companies may find it more difficult to prevent data leakage on the devices."

And CITEworld's Ryan Faas calls Handoff "another core Apple feature that makes it easy for work and personal data to mix on both work and personal devices, creating data sprawl, security, and accountability challenges." Faas also warns of social engineering risks with the technology, particularly from spear-phishing attacks that could coax users into sharing sensitive data.

The new iCloud Drive -- Apple's challenge to Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box -- could also exacerbate the security headaches of corporations that embrace BYOD. Files can now be uploaded to the cloud by dragging them into the iCloud Drive, and Mail Drop further integrates iCloud into the iOS and Mac experience by automatically loading large attachments to a user's iCloud account and emailing a link. While that's great for users, CITEworld's Faas observes:

It creates greater concerns for enterprise IT because it encourages data creep into personal services. Mail Drop, as both a cloud solution and an email solution, is particularly concerning because any large business document or file may inadvertently be stored in a user's iCloud account without the sender or the recipient even realizing it.

Still, with this latest round of features in OS X and iOS, Apple's enterprise focus is clearly gathering steam. As Cruxial CIO writes, "Mac still has a long way to go before it can displace Windows PCs in the enterprise, but upgrades like Yosemite give it a boost in that direction."

This article, "OS X Yosemite and iOS 8's enticements could also entrap," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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