Mobile security: iOS vs. Android vs. WebOS vs. the rest

It's no longer a question of whether your business will support tablets and smartphones. And at most organizations, it's no longer a question of whether you'll support multiple mobile OSes. The question is, which mobile OSes can you support?

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I've put together a table of what the mainstream mobile OSes supports for security and management, so you can tell quickly which platforms offer the fundamental capabilities you require.

[ Learn how to manage iPads, iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other mobile devices in InfoWorld's 20-page Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF special report. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights via Twitter and with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

Most devices -- BlackBerry is the exception -- use Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies for their native management, so your email server and its associated Active Directory profiles become your management tool. (BlackBerry Enterprise Server, an add-on server for Exchange, GroupWise, and Lotus Notes, works essentially the same way.)

To go beyond these native capabilities or to manage mobile devices outside of Exchange, consider using a third-party mobile device management platform. These MDM platforms vary widely in capability and focus, with some oriented to providing user support -- such as Boxtone -- and telecom expense management, such as Tangoe. Others -- such as Good for Enterprise, MobileIron, Sybase Afaria, Trellia, and Zenprise -- offer a broad range of capabilities.

If your security needs are complex, you might need to look at mobile application management tools; there are products for native apps and products for HTML5 apps. You can also find mobile-aware network management tools that detect and manage access by mobile devices, including those not managed by your MDM tool.

Table: Mobile management capabilities compared

Key: EAS = via Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. BES = via BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.x. 3PS = via third-party server.

Notes:
1. Some Nokia E-series and N-series devices only.
2. Storage cards not encrypted.
3. Via choice of Apple iPhone Configuration Utility (no over-the-air confirmation or auditing), Mac OS X Lion Serve, EAS, and 3PS.
4. Require PIN only.
5. BlackBerry OS 6 only.
6. Some third-party email client applications support additional EAS policies within those applications only.
7. Exchange Server Enterprise license required for support of all 29 EAS policies, lower-tier licenses support 15 EAS policies.
8. BES supports more than 500 policies of its own.
9. Some device models only.

This article, "Mobile security: iOS vs. Android vs. WebOS vs. the rest," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.


For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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