iPhone OS 3.0 adopts some BlackBerry-like security

Apple's latest release adds remote wipe and kill, but not for all e-mail platforms

Ever since it arrived, the iPhone has been criticized for not meeting key enterprise needs. The iPhone 2.0 OS, released in summer 2008, added several key business functions, such as Exchange integration, but nowhere near the capabilities that many companies need to meet security and compliance requirements. The new iPhone 3.0 OS, to be released on June 17 as a free update to iPhone users and a $10 update to iPod Touch users, moves the iPhone a bit closer to enterprise requirements.

For IT, Apple has added on-device encryption for data (backups are encrypted as well), plus a remote wipe-and-kill feature for Exchange 2007 users. Non-Exchange users can get remote wpe-and-kill if they subscribe to Apple's consumer-oriented MobileMe service. In either case, the wiped information and settings can be restored if you find the missing iPhone.

[ See how the iPhone 3G and BlackBerry Bold fare in a head-to-head comparison. ]

Neither IBM's Lotus division nor Novell have iPhone clients, so their e-mail access is handled through the Web. That means there's no local data stored on the iPhone to be stolen, but it also means that there is no mechamism for remote management, such as to kill a device that has access privileges to network-based e-mail, contacts, and calendar information. IBM has announced it will provide Notes synchronization to the iPhone via Microsoft's ActiveSync technology in a forthcoming version of Lotus Notes Traveler, but the security and management implications remain unclear.

What the new iPhone OS does not appear to address is the ability for IT to manage users' applications wirelessly. Device management remains handled through the use of profiles distributed via e-mail or Web pages, rather than through wireless syncing. iPhone OS 3.0 also does not appear to change the password security for iPhones, which are limited to four-digit numeric passwords.

For users, Apple is adding copy and paste across applications (including Web pages) as well as Spotlight search across all data stored on the device. Theoretically, an iPhone running the 3.0 OS could act as a 3G modem for a laptop, but several carriers -- such as AT&T in the U.S. won't support that feature on their networks. The iPhone's calendar app can now initiate meeting requests through Exchange, and can also sync notes (not just calendar items, e-mail, and contacts). The new OS also adds voice commands, so users can dial numbers and manage music by speaking. And third-party apps, such as one by TomTom that Apple showcased at its WWDC 2009 event today, will allow turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

InfoWorld Technology of the Year Awards 2023. Now open for entries!