The iPhone 6 is here, accompanied by the much-anticipated iOS 8, which promised enterprises better control and more security measures. Likely, at least some of your employees were standing in mile-long lines, waiting to pick up their new beauty, while your IT service desk team members sat back at the office with measured excitement balanced with some healthy concern.
The verdict is in: there are things to love about iOS 8, and things to hate. Here’s the scoop.
Some of the security and management features of iOS8 are awesome.
Features the IT Service Desk Will Love
Apple put in a few controls and security features to appease service desk workers, such as an option to use more complex passcodes and the ability to use fingerprints as a biometric control measure. The downside is that if fingerprints are used as only a single-factor authentication, it isn’t as secure as it seems. Gummi bears can actually be used to fake out fingerprint authorizations.
Certain sensitive apps — such as Contacts, Mail, Messages, Notes, Calendar, and Reminders — can be password protected with iOS 8, which is a nice improvement for security. There are also some MDM (Mobile Device Management) features the help desk will like, including the ability to push PDF files and iBooks to user devices and the ability to control what apps the devices default to. IT can also deploy their own user interface to make it easier to control mobile devices in a BYOD environment.
Wi-Fi privacy is also improved with iOS 8, particularly the use of VPN and random Mac addresses while the device is searching for open networks. As with fingerprinting technology, there is a downside to this from the IT standpoint. Many networks are designed to work with fixed Mac addresses, and this could cause some glitches at some IT service desks.
iOS 8 also gives users the ability to encrypt email, which is a huge plus in IT environments where sensitive corporate, client, and employee data is regularly transferred via email. The new OS also allows for better user privacy configurations.
Features the IT Service Desk Will Hate
What IT professionals are concerned about with iOS 8 is the easy transfer of data through file-sharing cloud services like iCloudDrive, Handoff, and AirDrop. While these services were in play before, iOS 8 is the first Apple operating system that allows for seamless sharing, not just between mobile devices or between Mac computers, but from mobile to desktop and desktop to mobile. This feature will make users happy — but could cause security nightmares within enterprises.
Another huge problem for the IT service desk is that iO S8 does virtually nothing to make it easier to integrate Apple devices with Windows environments. As if this hassle isn’t enough, the iPhone 6 does not allow the company to bypass user passcodes, so enterprises are stuck in the dark if legal or compliance issues come up requiring access to a user’s device without their consent.
The bottom line: Apple has gone far enough with iOS 8 to say that they truly made the OS easier to incorporate into a secure and manageable IT environment, while not going so far as to alienate its primary user base. After all, if the users don’t love the iPhone, it will no longer be such a popular device in BYOD environments anyway.