Apple’s iPhone is steadily inching towards enterprise acceptance

While large numbers of end users have embraced the iPhone, corporate IT groups, and especially Information Security groups have been lukewarm at best. And lukewarm is already an improvement from the cold reception the device got from CISOs two years ago when it was introduced.

But over the last two years Apple has worked not only on winning hearts and minds of end users but also of corporate IT departments. With the roll out of last year’s iPhone (the 3G version) Apple made it easier to support the device centrally, but still key capabilities were missing. With the new iPhone OS version 3 and the newly introduced iPhone 3GS Apple is addressing some of those short comings, adding more security features, from device encryption to remote wipe.

But the new security features will likely not win over all CISOs, despite winning over ever more end-users — ATT is reporting that pre-orders of the new phone are already sold out. And the question is going to be: does Apple actually need to worry about corporate security offices? By meeting basic security standards like password locks, full device encryption, and remote wipe Apple arms its users with just enough ammunition to make the case for corporate use,  allowing Apple to have end users (rather than enterprise readiness) pave the way for iPhone adoption (or at least acceptance) by corporate IT departments – a strategy which seems to work.

What does this mean for corporate information security groups? A potential loss in authority if they try to swim against the tide. But at the same time, there is an oportunity here for CISOs, to reach out to end-users and explain secure use of the device to them. The good news is that the iPhone is a much more personal device for users than corporate laptops are. This means end users will likely take better care of it, and since the device holds nearly the whole life of a user (from music to contacts to family pictures) the case for information and data security can be made much more easily.

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