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Friday, 09 April 2010 12:56

iPhone OS 4.0 brings a welcome security boost

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Support for SSL-VPN in the new iPhone OS 4.0 will increase the options for enterprises wanting to bring the iPhone securely into their corporate IT environment, but further enhancements may still be needed.

Apple announced that the new iPhone OS 4.0, launched in beta, would come with SSL-VPN, saying it "includes support for forthcoming SSL-VPN applications from Juniper Networks and Cisco."

Juniper's director of corporate social media relations, Brendan Lewis, in a blog posting, said SSL-VPN support on the iPhone was "great news for enterprises'¦Apple is taking a few steps to improve the iPhone's ability to help enterprises manage the information flowing to and from their networks.

"One such feature will be the OS 4 support of SSL-VPN applications, including Juniper's'¦When fully released, OS 4 will have integrated, world-class SSL-VPN capabilities versus just supporting IPSec VPNs."

He added: "All the advantages of an SSL-VPN: decreased deployment and support costs while delivering identity-enabled, secure mobile network access, will be available on the iPhone."

Junos Pulse is claimed to be the industry's first downloadable client software that provides secure connections across smartphones, notebooks, netbooks as well as non-mobile devices. At Mobile World Congress in February, Juniper announced Junos Pulse support for Microsoft Windows phones and Nokia Symbian OS devices.

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Gartner Australia research director, Robin Simpson, agreed that SSL-VPN was good news for enterprise IT. "It gives people more choice and is more in line with what people are doing today. Previously there was only Cisco IP-Sec. That has been built in to the iPhone since OS 2.0."

He added that SSL-VPN was more standardised than IP-Sec, so should enable other vendors of SSL-VPN based security products to support the new iPhone OS.

However for security-conscious enterprise IT departments, iPhone OS 4.0 might still have some shortcomings. "SSL-VPN one piece of the puzzle, but the mobile device management side is till important, Simpson told iTWire.

"As part of the announcement they said that there are some new APIs for mobile device management but we don't have more details at the moment.

"If [OS 4.0] conforms to OMA DM that would be great because the client device management systems from the big vendors use OMA DM and they can support just about any standard phone that uses these."

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OMA-DM is a device management protocol specified by the Open Mobile Alliance - a standards body focussed primarily on the cellular industry - for small mobile devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and palm top computers. It is intended to support provisioning, configuration, software upgrades and fault management.

Gartner has a scale for ranking the suitability of mobile devices for enterprise IT applications and Simpson told iTWire last year that: "Since the July 2008 launch of the iPhone 3G, Gartner has recommended that enterprises support iPhone at the 'Appliance' level of our three-tier managed diversity model. This means it is suitable for enterprise tasks such as email, calendar and web-browsing."

However Gartner has yet to qualify the iPhone at the highest, Platform, level of its three tier model. Simpson explained: "The Platform level is intended for those mobile applications that need deep access to IT infrastructure, business applications and confidential data."

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