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Apple says its iPhone 3G S is "ready for business", however one leading hacker calls it "useless" for business users, thanks to its woefully poor encryption and security. He says the phones pose a serious threat to companies adopting them. Still, some companies say it's worth the risk.  (Source: The iPhone Blog)
The iPhone yet again experiencing criticism over poor security

Jonathan Zdziarski, an iPhone developer and a hacker who teaches forensics courses on recovering data from iPhones, hasn't been very impressed with the iPhone's security -- or lack thereof.  Mr. Zdziarski has indicated that iPhone OS v3.0 is a bit better when it comes to security, but he says with only a few pieces of readily available freeware you can easily crack it in under two minutes.  That news must be concerning for the corporations and government agencies that support the hundreds of thousands of business iPhones Apple says it has sold.

Mr. Zdziarski says the iPhone's security woes are entirely unnecessary and are the result of incompetence.  He states, "It is kind of like storing all your secret messages right next to the secret decoder ring.  I don’t think any of us [developers] have ever seen encryption implemented so poorly before, which is why it’s hard to describe why it’s such a big threat to security."

His statements stand in stark contrast with Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook's cheerful news that 20 percent of Fortune 100 companies have purchased 10,000 or more iPhones apiece and that multiple government organizations had purchased 25,000 iPhones apiece.  Mr. Cook had bragged, "We’re seeing growing interest with the release of iPhone 3.0 and the iPhone 3GS due in part to the new hardware encryption and improved security policies.  The phone is particularly doing well with small businesses and large organizations."

Mr. Zdziarski says these entities might be in trouble as the encryption on the phone is so poorly implemented a simple software tool makes it as easy to view encrypted files as unencrypted ones.  Thieves could extract live encrypted data from the phone in a mere 2 minutes, and have an entire raw disk image in about 45 minutes.  Interestingly, the iPhone itself helps with these tasks – it begins to decrypt data on its own automatically after the extraction process has started.

Corporate users often edit finance spreadsheets and other corporate documents on their phone, as well as using the phone to make transactions with corporate credit cards.  All of this information is easy pickings for hackers thanks to the phone's woeful security.  Mr. Zdziarski surmises, "If (companies are) relying on Apple’s security, then their application is going to be terribly insecure.  Apple may be technically correct that [the iPhone 3GS] has an encryption piece in it, but it’s entirely useless toward security.  We’re going to have to go with the old imperative of ‘Trust no one'.  And unfortunately part of that is, don’t trust Apple."

Still, some companies say that the risks of deployments are worth it.  States Lance Kidd, chief information officer of Halton Company, an industrial equipment provider, which lets its employees use iPhones, "Your organization has to be culturally ready to accept a certain degree of risk.  I can say we’ve secured everything as tight as a button, but that won’t be true…. Our culture is such that our general manager is saying, ‘I’m willing to take the risk for the value of the applications.’  It’s like business continuity.  You prepare for disasters. You prepare for if there’s an earthquake and the building breaks down, and you prepare for if there’s a crack in [information] security."

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RE: ... iPhone is Incredibly Insecure
By 67STANG on 7/24/2009 10:37:17 PM , Rating: 2
Correct, the 8GB 3G is $99 and it goes up from there. But for my needs, it fits very nicely. And while it doesn't have flash, it's still a dream to browse the web on, compared to other phones.

Honestly, there are VERY few times I miss the fact that it doesn't support flash. In fact, I'm usually happy it doesn't load flash most of the time.

RE: ... iPhone is Incredibly Insecure
By kmmatney on 7/25/2009 12:28:36 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed - I really don't even notice that it doesn't have flash - it's not nearly as much of a hindrance as I thought it would be. The web browser is awesome (especially under wifi) and beats the crap out of other phones I tried.

I don't think the iPhone any riskier than having a netbook, and it's fantastic as a business phone. Although our "IT" guy doesn't support the iPhone at my company, I was able to set everything up myself in about 10 minutes.

RE: ... iPhone is Incredibly Insecure
By pxavierperez on 7/25/09, Rating: -1
By dark matter on 7/25/2009 4:20:53 AM , Rating: 1
You sacked the wrong person.

You haven't hired an IT manager more knowledgeable or more equipped, you have hired a "yes" man.

Considering the iPhone has a pathetically poor thermal operating range and now it has been shown to have abysmal security you're still banging on about how great your decision was to overide the advice of your previous IT manager just because he didn't want to support the iPhone. Coupled with the fact you treat your IT department with contempt does little for your reputation as a succesfull business person.

Anyway... Me thinks this is nothing but PR spin from Apple itself. I will be letting your superiors at infinite loop know just how crap you are at your job. Next time you take an assignment like this, stick to something you know or something easy to learn. Something like gravel or bricks is about your level.

RE: ... iPhone is Incredibly Insecure
By Boze on 7/26/2009 1:17:40 AM , Rating: 2
The iPhone is a great consumer device, I don't think anyone would argue that, but trying to espouse it as some sort of device that could be "interfaced to our work flow"? Give me a break... maybe if your "work flow" is running around outside all day taking pictures or reporting up-to-the-minute pointless news.

Otherwise, its just a shiny neat toy to increase your e-dong size.

By dark matter on 7/25/2009 4:12:47 AM , Rating: 2
fantastic as a business phone

As long as your business is an area where it doesn't go above 35 degrees or below zero. Or where the sun doesn't shine. And make sure your employers don't hold it in their hands for too long as that is pushing the device beyond its thermal envelope. And its great for businesses who like to leave spare access cards and key fobs next to their front door. It's great for those companies who don't have any security on their network and couldn't care less about keeping their confidential business plans safe.

Congratulations your "IT" guy doesn't support the iPhone, seems he knows his stuff.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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