Mobile security: iOS vs. Android vs. WebOS vs. the rest

As tablets and smartphones become common business tools, InfoWorld's handy comparison helps IT know which to allow

It's no longer a question of whether your business will support tablets and smartphones. And at most organizations, it's no longer a question of whether you'll support multiple mobile OSes. The question is, which mobile OSes can you support?

I've put together a table (on the next page) of what the mainstream mobile OSes supports for security and management, so you can tell quickly which platforms offer the fundamental capabilities you require.

[ Learn how to manage iPads, iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other mobile devices in InfoWorld's 20-page Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights via Twitter and with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

Most devices -- BlackBerry is the exception -- use Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies for their native management, so your email server and its associated Active Directory profiles become your management tool. (BlackBerry Enterprise Server, an add-on server for Exchange, GroupWise, and Lotus Notes, works essentially the same way.)

To go beyond these native capabilities or to manage mobile devices outside of Exchange, consider using a third-party mobile device management platform. These MDM platforms vary widely in capability and focus, with some oriented to providing user support -- such as Boxtone -- and telecom expense management, such as Tangoe. Others -- such as Good for Enterprise, MobileIron, Sybase Afaria, Trellia, and Zenprise -- offer a broad range of capabilities.

If your security needs are complex, you might need to look at mobile application management tools; there are products for native apps and products for HTML5 apps. You can also find mobile-aware network management tools that detect and manage access by mobile devices, including those not managed by your MDM tool.

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