The chic iPhone may have snatched Research In Motion's smartphone sales crown in 2008, but RIM charged back with its Blackberries topping sales charts this year, thanks in part to Verizon's "Buy one get one" promotion. Both phones are vying for business customers, as are a plethora of Windows Mobile (WinMo) phones. So how do all these phones stack up in security, one of the most critical considerations in business tech adoption?
A new study by Lopez Research, founded by President Maribel Lopez, a former Forrester Research analyst tackles this question, looking at these three top competitors in the smart phone arena. The study was broken down into three categories -- device, network, and transmission. It gives a score of 0 to 4 (highest) to each competitor for each category.
Its results may surprise some. It blasts Apple's iPhone with an overall score of 1 out of 4. Apple's worst performance came in the device category in which it earned a zero. Ms. Lopez notes that the underlying OS X build is easily compromised, that the system lacks over the air security updates, and that its encryption options are lacking.
Networking was Apple's strongest category. The reason why it performed well, according to Ms. Lopez, was that the iPhone "uses the same active directory based on authentication methods as Windows Mobile."
As this quote might imply, Windows Mobile 6.5 scored quite well, earning an overall 3 out of 4. Ms. Lopez praises, "Microsoft’s solution leverages the existing infrastructure, such as Active Directory, to manage Windows Mobile capable devices, meaning IT can manage the system with familiar tools and capabilities. It also recently achieved common criteria certification EAL 2+ for Windows Mobile 6.1 in August of 2008. The combination of MDM and a VPN provides a reasonable security solution for firms that would like to use Windows Mobile devices."
Microsoft earned a lower mark -- 2/4 -- on devices as its encryption was lacking, despite having over-the-air updates.
Sales leader RIM, though, took the cake, earning a perfect mark. States Ms. Lopez, "RIM offers strong security protection across the device, transmission and the network domains through tight control of the device, its software and its application control policies. While other vendors have stepped up security efforts in the past year, RIM offers the most robust security solution."
Ms. Lopez points out that it’s important for all of these companies to continue their efforts as large corporate deployments will likely see a mix of handset makers and OS's. For those worried about bias against Apple, given its poor mark, it can be noted that the Lopez Research site, which the report is available on, was built on a Mac.