Tablets represent a unique opportunity to extend applications—securely

December 7, 2011
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Despite the first wave of early tablet adopters by consumers, tablet devices are being accepted by businesses at an extremely rapid rate. Tabs simply build on the ability to keep things running smoothly in and—most importantly—out of the office.

The smart device onslaught, which of course includes the tablet, has generated a massive wave of useful business-oriented apps that are transforming these devices into business tools we never imagined. Gartner Inc. warned in one of their latest featured research reports that “tablets present a new design point for applications, and require a new set of policies, technologies and skills.”

For many businesses, the tablet represents a unique opportunity to extend their applications to mobile users. Many iPad owners however, share the device—especially at home among family members. It’s one thing to access games, media, or personal productivity apps on tablets. But what about company data, documents and financial spreadsheets?

Here's a thought: Rather than trying to create separate “one-off” business applications for the tablet market, perhaps utilizing the web browser (and performing the majority of computational processing on the server side) is the best way to efficiently secure data in business applications?

Regardless, since games and personal productivity apps don’t require the same level of security that is required by business data residing on the device, multi-user collaborative applications require a new thinking paradigm to remain productive, mobile yet also secure.

Applications cannot be considered “fully secure” until they use Apple’s Data Protection APIs and only a few applications supported this. Sensitive corporate data (usually stored in spreadsheets) can be at risk if any iOS device is compromised.

In reality, the tablet device is just another form-factor that needs to use the same exact back-end system security that we have come to apply and force onto a desktop or laptop in enterprise environments. The browser-based presentation layer with server-based logic, data, and security may be the only way to truly secure systems—especially when it comes to business processes and the protection of such data.

Tablet platforms are uncharted waters for most consumers, let alone in the business application and enterprise environment. My trust does not lie in the belief that my tablet/phone device cannot be jail-broken. My confidence, however, does lie in the fact that secure servers cannot be jail-broken.

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