Popular tablets have worrying security flaws

Study finds Samsung Galaxy Tab, Apple iPad and RIM BlackBerry Playbook fall short on enterprise security front

Serious security flaws in the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet device make it difficult to recommend for use in the enterprise, raising concerns for organisations looking to introduce bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, according to a new study.

The research – published by Context Information Security – also looked at the enterprise security features of competing devices, the Apple iPad and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook.

It found that although these devices performed better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab in relation to security controls, “they both have security problems including desktop software that does not encrypt backups by default.”

Context investigated several security controls to determine if they were suitable for enterprise use. These included data protection, software integrity and updates, access control, security configuration profiles and connectivity, and backup and synchronisation.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab doesn’t ship with a locked bootloader and its disk encryption scheme has vulnerabilities. Even when encryption is enabled on the Galaxy, it allows badly written apps to store sensitive information on the unencrypted SD card, the report said.

A lack of enterprise-level management tools beyond Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync also means it’s difficult to manage more than a small number of Galaxy Tabs in an enterprise environment, the report said. The Apple iPad also shares this problem with the Apple tools that are available, the report added.

The report's author, Jonathon Roach, said the tablet’s format is perfect for social networking and creating a sharing documents, presentations and other content on-the-fly “but the same characteristics also present tough security challenges for organisations.

“Context’s research suggests that most tablet manufacturers still have a way to go before their products can deliver the high levels of security required for use in most corporate enterprises,” Roach said.

Despite these issues, Context found that all three tablets have reasonably good support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, which means that core security configurations can be managed from a central Exchange server.

The company said the BlackBerry was “far more advanced in its level of readiness for BYOD than the other two tablets and provided excellent logical and data separation between work and personal modes.

Whether or not the Samsung Galaxy Tab is suitable for the enterprise may be the least of Samsung’s problems.

The company is locked in a legal battle with Apple over patents and in August, a jury in California found it had improperly violated patented technology in the iPhone and iPad. Apple was awarded US$1.05 billion in damages.

A fresh battle may emerge between the two companies after The Wall Street Journal reported today that Samsung planned to run a television commercial that “pokes fun at Apple’s iPhone 5” in Australia and New Zealand. A similar commercial is being run in the US.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Byron Connolly

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts