Which Mobile OS Offers the Highest Levels of Enterprise Security?

By  Jeff Koonce — September 05, 2012

A BYOD strategy can create real business value. However, it also introduces an IT security risk. An appropriate security policy can reduce this risk, but no mobile platform is currently immune to vulnerabilities. Which offers the best enterprise advantages?

From an enterprise perspective, BlackBerry OS is a more mature platform and scores highly by the security experts for corporate use. The high level of manageability and security still keeps Blackberry as the choice for the most stringent mobile rules, but this only applies to devices that are managed within the BES environment. Some of its strongest security features, such as device encryption, are not present when the device is provisioned via the BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS).

However, Research In Motion (RIM) has recently introduced a new OS (BlackBerry 10) aimed at growing consumer appeal while keeping its enterprise-facing functionality.

The leading challenger hands down is Apple iOS. Apple has always had a proprietary approach, allowing it to become a more enterprise-friendly platform. The hardware level encryption Apple incorporates makes it a more secure and manageable device in the consumer and enterprise mobile markets.

Unlike the BlackBerry OS, the iOS has built-in security constructs that prevent applications from being installed without the user’s consent, even if managed by an MDM solution. This is due to Apple’s enforcement of its aggressive stance of a user-centric mobile OS.

Unlike RIM’s approach, Apple devices require a third-party software platform for management of security policies in an enterprise environment.

Even though Android devices have made a big impact in the consumer market, it is still the lowest rated enterprise device when it comes to levels of security and manageability. The Android OS has recently improved on some security additions, like support of device encryption; however, at the MDM level these additions are strangely absent. The Android OS is still experiencing a deluge of malware attacks and data loss, and some have pointed to the OEM style of the OS as the culprit.

Corporate IT can still consider the Android as a viable corporate device, but it should be limited to lower security mobile functions and roles.

The Microsoft Windows Phone is the latest entry on the mobile market and it has performed surprisingly well, even though version 7.5 was released less than 18 months ago. The platform is just too new to really show any significant track record in the corporate world.

The Windows Phone has been overshadowed by iPhone and Android devices. However, the current issues within RIM have created opportunity for Microsoft.

Coming Soon?
Future feature sets that could appear on mobile devices might include things such as a device firewall or possibly security certification management, which would make any IT manager feel at ease.

Jeff Koonce is the IT Infrastructure Manager for Our Kids of Miami-Dade, FL, and a Contributing Editor for Mobile Enterprise.


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