back to article Windows Phone 7 'not fit for big biz ... unlike Android, iOS'

Window Phone 7 is not yet fit for enterprise deployments, according to an application security expert. David Rook, application security lead at Realex Payments, told delegates at the B-Sides conference in London that the youngest of the smartphone operating systems is less mature than either Google's Android or Apple's iOS. …

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"The youngest of the smartphone operating systems is less mature than either Google's Android or Apple's iOS"

I'm no fan of WinPhone, but.. well, duh.

The thing is, I doubt Microsoft actually care.. iOS and Android both went through this stage, and both sold like hotcakes, despite being 'not ready for the enterprise'.

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Actually.............

Microsoft should care.

A zonking great lump of the Windows mobile market was in enterprise devices. The sort of scanner bricks you see shelf stackers and delivery drivers carrying around.

MS, in their infinite wisdom, have made Windows phone 100% incompatible with Windows Mobile. Now the users of those Windows Mobile bricks have to decide whether to continue to use Windows Mobile (now a legacy OS), move to Windows Phone (No equipment available as yet), or move to Android. Many are using iPhones with external scanners.

There is the option of using Win CE, but that ramps up development costs, and its future is also less than certain.

Most of the people we have written Win Mob apps for in the past are moving to either Android or to iPhones with external "ring" scanners.

MS have really shit a brick with this one. They have introduced a consumer phone OS that nobody really wants and put their successful Enterprise device OS on death row.

A massive issue for Win Phone on enterprise devices is that the most popular devices are produced by Motorola. And we know which beb they are lying in.

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Huh?

Its not as suitable for business due to app security issues, in particular apps DON'T share data with each other...

Well that is stupid, but surely that's BETTER for security..?!

Anyways, user base here is happy with the few hundred we have here for email etc.

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Re: Huh?

Also did a double take when I read that. It is indeed better. App data sandboxing on Windows Phone is a lot better than it is on iOS or Android.

I think the issue that David Rook is talking about is really one caused by developers.

Specifically, if I download an encrypted PDF onto my WP device and decrypt it and read it, WP will (as you'd expect) launch Adobe's PDF Reader to display that document. PDF Reader automatically saves a copy of the PDF file to its own app data folder so that it can be accessed through its (PDF Reader's) recent documents list.

The problem you have now is that the encrypted version is still in our app's data folder, but that counts for squat because there's an unencrypted version in the PDF Reader's folder.

The way to get 'round that is to write a PDF reader for the app that downloads and decrypts the PDF doc. That's a lot more work.

There's always a tradeoff - given security, usability and low cost you can only ever choose two.

Either way, I have way more faith in WP than I do in (stock) Android. Android is just too open. App permissions are nebulous and ambiguous, and telcos and handset manufacturers can bake anything into the OS(!) they like.

Sure, you can do with Android what the DoD do with Linux - create your own locked-down distribution. The problem there is that the cost is then even higher, and invariably usability suffers too because all that hardcore security ends up hobbling the device.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh?

i was already to come on here and blast this report to bits given that many folk, myself included have spent months trying to crack open WP, and unless the OEM screwed up (first gen HTC devices) there has been minimal success, theres are so many security layers in the OS! it really is a royal pain in the arse

anyhow, you actually make a very good point about the PDF files and i hadnt thought about that at all, although i have to wonder if thats more of an adobe issue, but in any case its an interesting case.....i wonder if we can use that opening, i doubt it very much given the umpteen levels of security in place to execute or modify anything.

i would say that if you were to password protect your device, then you can more or less be very happy that anything on your device is secure, unless your using a modded ROM that is

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Re: Huh?

Irconically, one reason WP is so tightly sewn-up is because of Hollywood. Hollywood is also one of the reasons that WP is based on Windows CE rather than something new. Well, until it starts using the W8 kernel, but that's a while off.

Microsoft wanted to leverage their investment in Zune. Zune was never going to work on WP unless Microsoft could convince Hollywood that the platform and DRM are solid. The quickest way to do that was to leverage existing tech, and that meant Windows CE.

The irony is pretty... erm, ironic. If Google had launched with a media service similar to iTunes or Zune, then Andoid would be a completely different animal. It's that very reason that the Kindle Fire is doing so well where other similarly-priced Android tablets tanked. The public at large seems to be ok with DRM as long as content is easily accesible.

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Oh, just give me the controls you idiot!

"The current Windows Phone 7 framework doesn't allow app to access data held by other apps."

Meanwhile, in other news, Apple and Android phones are slammed yet again for some random security breach that lets apps hoover up data held by other apps.

Perhaps what all three systems need is a fine-grained discretionary access control system, like, oh I don't know, a proper OS. All three are based on a proper OS that could easily provide such a facility. All three have decided that it is too complicated for their user base and so it must be hidden from them. All three are now suffering either security embarrassments or criticism that their phones are missing basic functionality.

Smarter people than the present lot of project managers figured this all out in the 1960s, for mainframes. Their wisdom and implementation experience was apparently transferred without complaint to the mini-computers and UNIX workstations of the 70s and 80s. (Well, duh! Why on Earth wouldn't it?)

Then desktop PCs came along and dropped the ball. (Er, duh, er, ... oh.) Twenty years on, we have endured pain beyond the 1960s' imagination but just about picked the ball up again. Do we really have to go through this process a second time for "devices"?

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Re: Oh, just give me the controls you idiot!

In that context I had to laugh at anyone calling especially *Android* as safer. You know, from the company that has now admitted their WiFi snooping was FAR from accidental (and who told the Canadian Information Cimmissioner they would not *need* to do it again because that function was now taken over by the Android handsets). And there is zero checking on what Android apps actually do, and whether you actually have the real app or an infected variant.

Not that I fully trust Apple either, but at least there is some checking of Apps, and it's not the company's core business to gather and sell information (still just a happy side effect)..

The best mobile phone, however, is still one that isn't smart at all.. Not sure how much longer the Nokia 6310 will work, but that's the one I use if I just want to be reachable..

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Re: Oh, just give me the controls you idiot!

"In that context I had to laugh at anyone calling especially *Android* as safer. You know, from the company that has now admitted their WiFi snooping was FAR from accidental"

That would be called a non sequitur, e.g. similar to proclaiming SELinux is not secure because the NSA listens to phone conversations.

I think it's right to address the security models of each respective OS.

Android uses a permissions based model for its security and it has been pretty robust but is it secure? After all what point is there to permissions if idiot users install "sexy girl screensaver" clicking through the permissions dialog that shows how dangerous it is? What good are permissions if a user cannot distinguish between an app that needs to read contacts for legitimate purposes and one for malicious purposes?

iOS is claimed to be secure and Apple to "curate" apps but the fact that jailbreaks are common place and some can even be done from the web based suggest it is not that secure at all. And certainly that curation hasn't stopped apps from walking off with data off the phone despite what the apps tell their users.

So neither popular phone OS has gotten it right. Personally I think Android stands as a better model for security though it absolutely should have the ability for software or users to be able to veto apps which ask for certain permissions or fake them out in harmless ways, e.g. app thinks its sending an SMS but it goes nowhere. This can be done with a rooted phone, but it should really be baked into the vanilla Android.

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Re: Oh, just give me the controls you idiot!

You imply that iOS has shite security because the device can be jaibroken. You then say that you think Android has better security.

And, finally, you conclude that Android can be rooted.

WTF?!?

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Re: Oh, just give me the controls you idiot!

I wasn't thinking of security against external attack, and I don't regard jail-breaking as a security problem because IMHO the person doing the jail-breaking is the owner of the device and damn well ought to be allowed to do it.

No, I was thinking of the barriers that prevent internal code, deliberately installed for legitimate purposes, from doing rather more than those legitimate purposes. That's the traditional function of an OS and we have traditional ways of doing it. Phones, OTOH, appear to believe that their users are too stupid to act as a system administrator and so these controls should be "preset" by the vendor to either "safe but crippled" or "unsafe".

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Re: Oh, just give me the controls you idiot!

Unfortunately there seems to be an increasing tendency these days to regard the user as an idiot who *can't* be trusted with responsibility for their own system. And actually, I can see where the O/S makers are coming from. Apple have really blazed a trail when it comes to lock-in for others to follow. If you were in charge of Apple, or Microsoft, you might be tempted to make your new systems a locked down system that the user finds hard to fuck up too. Windows has been around for decades. In real terms, it's about as secure as Linux these days. But we still have problems because there are always users out there who will install some random exe they are sent. (Just as if Ubuntu were the dominant desktop these same users would happily sudo any command they were told to or enter their password at any prompt).

It's a terrible trade-off. At least it seems terrible to those of us who actually can show some responsibility for looking after our own systems. But we're not everyone. If we were producing a phone O/S and were faced with the drooling hoards of click-anything type users, would we too be tempted to create a walled garden?

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Re: Oh, just give me the controls you idiot!

No, I was thinking of the barriers that prevent internal code, deliberately installed for legitimate purposes, from doing rather more than those legitimate purposes. That's the traditional function of an OS and we have traditional ways of doing it.

Actually, the traditional function of an OS is to provide consistent hardware access to application components. User security came later, and application security even later. Regardless, tradition for tradition's sake is not a valid reason to do anything. Following tradition in security matters only makes sense if the tradition is supported by data showing it to be the best solution.

Traditional user-level security, as seen on mainframes, workstations, and PCs, has proven time and again that the weakest link is in fact the user -- even experts who know better get lazy with security. So the application-level security of Android, Windows Vista+ (UAC), and WinPhone fail as well as they, too, rely on the user to decide what to trust. Apple tries to get around this by vetting every app, but that too has shown to be insufficient. Putting more reliance on the weakest part of the system (by adding finer-grained controls and expecting the user to do more work) won't help.

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I think that they want one app to access another app to check up on that app - and with most phones it's not apps accessing apps that's the problem, it's apps accessing the data from other apps and services, and then doing unholy things with said data, that's the issue.

I'll spare you my usual rant about spirit levels.

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Is Windows Phone 7 fit for anything?

Aside the bin....

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Re: Is Windows Phone 7 fit for anything?

A little unfair, they could do something with it. Force the interface onto desktop PCs, for example?

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Re: Is Windows Phone 7 fit for anything?

You can tell it's a weekday, all the Microsoft Reading employees downvoting me...

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@Barry

Silly me - I thought the only requirement for down voting a trolling fanboi was that we actually hate the crap you post regardless of who our employers are.

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"......all the Microsoft Reading employees downvoting me......."

To quote Oliver Cromwell in another context "i beseech you, in the bowels of christ, think it possible you may be mistaken". It is possible you know to disagree with you without being on the payroll of Lord Sauron-Ballmer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is Windows Phone 7 fit for anything?

Barry, you clearly wrote your post to elicit as many downvotes as possible. It was - even by your standards - a piss-poor troll (which I can't believe I'm feeding) don't whinge when you get downvotes.

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Re: Is Windows Phone 7 fit for anything?

I had a Windows Phone, it was given to me as a review unit, and it was utter shite, really not worthy of any useful purpose.

It might have looked quite nice, but it wasn't actually useful.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is Windows Phone 7 fit for anything?

Yeah, yeah Barry, you keep telling us that you had a WP7, now you claim to be some kind of reviewer, yet your reviews here don't seem to even get to be as eloquent or detailed as the review of Spinal Tap's "Shark Sandwich" album. I would also hope that any reviewer of any technology wouldn't make the same basic mistakes about said technology as you continually do about WP7.

Or were you doing your review from Android Troll Monthly magazine?

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Anonymous Coward

Not so hidden agenda?

"Rook has developed a utility called Windows Phone App Analyser to assist software creators in uncovering possible problems."

So a man selling a security tool for WP slags off security of WP?

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Black Helicopters

WP7 is a breath of fresh air

Having had each version of the iPhone since it's lauch (bar the 4S) and also having an SPV and a few other variants prior to the iPhones arrival. I'm firmly in the iPhone eco system.

However, after a couple of hours with WP7 on a Lumia, I was very impressed. It makes the iPhone iOS seem a bit old and stale. Personally I like the tile interface and it syncs with Exchange with ease. Not that the iPhone doesn't but the WP7 just seemed a lot slicker.

My Lumia has gone back due to a hardware issue but I'm looking forward to its return as once again I'm back on an iPhone and most of all, I am looking forward to being rid of that hideous abomination called iTunes!

Choice of mobile phones is a very personal matter but for business use the WP7 worked very well for me. If you've never tried one properly, park your prejudices and give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Re: WP7 is a breath of fresh air

> However, after a couple of hours with WP7 on a Lumia, I was very impressed

(...)

> My Lumia has gone back due to a hardware issue

(...)

> Choice of mobile phones is a very personal matter

Sure is. You've helped more than you realise.

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Re: WP7 is a breath of fresh air

I'm inclined to agree with you to a certain extent.

All our engineers have just been given WP7s to replace their awful Blackberry Shitstorms. They all seem to like them. Nice and simple, and as I'm the one who had to set them all up, I'm quite impressed too.

I'm not sure I'd replace my old 3GS with one just yet though, but if apps like the excellent OS Landranger series and some others that I've come to rely on were available for WP7 I might be tempted.

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Really mysterious

I remember reading the comment in exact same form in another site.

I remember because of its absurdity. Also remember zdnet busted Nokia employees posing as users and posting comments about win phone. How could they figure? Idiots used Nokia's corporate ip block.

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Re: WP7 is a breath of fresh air

I have an iPhone 3GS and a Nokia Lumia 710 so I am coming from a position of knowledge of both when I ask if you consider iTunes an abomination, what superlative do you use to describe Zune?

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Re: WP7 is a breath of fresh air

When I plug in my work iPhone and iTunes gives me a choice of a) Replace all apps on the device with the ones from my personal iPhone or b) Do nothing (no updates, nada). Same problem with it trying to wipe my personal iPad with apps from the business one! Then when iTunes records a CD of various artists and creates 40 new albums all with the same name, I call that an abomination.

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Re: WP7 is a breath of fresh air

...Or call it user error. It's cos you haven't enabled "manual syncing" you silly billy. Have a beer.

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Re: Really mysterious

What's absurd about it? If you had a product that you liked but there was a hardware fault, say the screen was cracked or something, would you hurl up your hands in horror and say: "this device must be spurned forever more!" Or would you say, perhaps, "I like this. shame about that crack, I'll just get them to send me a new one"

And I have a Lumia 710. Given that it has almost the same specs as the 800 (just doesn't have the nice styling or posh camera and "only" has 8GB of memory), I'm really pleased with it for £160. Plus people keep asking me about it and generally crooning at it which is a first for my phones (I'm pretty basic when it comes to my phone tastes and only ventured into smart phones last year).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WP7 is a breath of fresh air

If you thouht WP7 was a breath of fresh air over iOS, then you should have tried Android, it's a million times better still.

Windows Phone really is a dog.

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Re: WP7 is a breath of fresh air

> All our engineers have just been given WP7s to replace their awful Blackberry Shitstorms. They all seem to like them.

Spotted any ostentatious new cars in the procurement section of the corporate car park recently?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really mysterious

You do realise that if you'd just left it at the first paragraph, most people would have been none the wiser.

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Anonymous Coward

Typical John Leyden

Can't even spell the name of the product he is talking about.

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Re: Typical John Leyden

What do you expect though - he couldn't even spell 'Lydon'.

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FUD

Frankly, this all FUD: "Microsoft is likely to ..." "Examples of possible problem areas ..." "... it's only a matter of time before these get broken."

I assume there must have been something of value in this presentation, otherwise it would not have been "well-received presentation".

But what was it? El Reg, do you have better reporting here???

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WTF?

If MS had sense or foresight they would have had WP7 set up to be THE BYOD device from the get go. The enterprise Vs personal phone argument is on borrowed time anyway. BYOD solutions are coming thick and fast. Businesses can realise real savings by getting their idiot staff to fork out for shiny shiny phones from their own pockets.

If you want shiny you'll get an iPhone, if you want cheap you'll get an Android, if you have valuable data or work for the Gov you'll stick with Blackberry. So WTF is WP7's for?

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"If you want shiny you'll get an iPhone" - not necessarily.

"if you want cheap you'll get an Android" - not necessarily.

"if you have valuable data or work for the Gov, you'll stick with Blackberry" - you're in the wrong decade 0laf.

Here's what I dislike about arguments like these:

1 The refusal to allow a new product to mature. WP7 is new - of course the app store is small, the customer base is small and the OS isn't feature-perfect. MS is going through a transition with its OSes (and must fight hard to maintain customer and developer bases while doing so), and no-one should expect MS to be #1 in the market while that's happening. But there are so many commentards who trash MS for not putting out a brand new phone OS that seriously threatens e.g. ICS or iOS overnight. Can't be done people. Not in the short-term. But MS will play the long game and have no intention of seriously challenging Apple today.

2 The assumption that the market is now fixed / static. You read so many posts on forums like these implying that the market is basically decided - Apple at the top-end, Android mid-to-low, BB / MS / others taking a small share. Markets aren't fixed! Apple will not be at the top for ever. Android will not be the teenagers first choice for ever. Do people really think (some do) that MS might as well give up in the mobile OS space, because Apple and Google have it all sewn up? Long live competition. Without WP7, BB et al. there's a danger of quasi-monopolies and they are never good.

(I use iPhone 4 and Lumia 800)

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Hmmmmmm....

As much as I really appeciate your level-headed post here (without screaming at everyone blue in the face), I disagree.

Your point 1) "The refusal to allow a new product to mature." - As much as I'd always like to see new OSes appear into the market (whether it's desktop, mobile or tablet); the OS is as good as it's marketing. Microsoft have no clue on how to market anything as far as I'm concerned. The Nokia Lumia ads although not very convincing (much better than the new Sony adverts which include the robots - WTF!?), it's creating a trusted product. That's how Apple kicked off their mobile OS and established a connection between themselves and their customers. I will never move away from iOS unless I start to distrust Apple. Whether that's the OS falling apart or some very good reason to move.

WebOS is a great example. All the techies and critiques absolutely adored the product. However, Palm/HP had done nothing but create its grave well early into its development

Your point 2) "The assumption that the market is now fixed / static" - It will do until something major happens (one of the big players fall out of the market - i.e. Nokia and then it shifts). Apple will be top until its hardware shipments start to fall and people don't renew their old models with new models. Again, same thing happened with Nokia. The new generation products sucked as far as consumers reckoned as they stopped buying/replacing.

Essentially, it's a two OS market + the scraps as both Apple/Google have tied up their users into eco-systems. Until MS/RIM/Nokia give us a new generation of smartphone (whatever that is - maybe not tied down to apps/cloud based services), then it will stay static.

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Anonymous Coward

> Here's what I dislike about arguments like these:

> 1 The refusal to allow a new product to mature. WP7 is new - of course the app store is small, the customer base is small and the OS isn't feature-perfect.

As if that has anything at all to do with WP7's woes.

1. Nobody wants to write apps for the phones, unless they're being given wads of money by Microsoft to do so.

2. Nobody wants to sell the phones, not even if they're being given wads of money by Microsoft to do so.

3. Nobody wants to buy the phones, not even if they're being given wads of money by Microsoft to do so.

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Anonymous Coward

What they don't tell you

.. is that it isn't fit for the domestic market either.

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Whilst as a WebOS user....

...I just shake my head, wipe away a tear as three inferior phone OS battle it out.

Oh how it could have been.....

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Re: Whilst as a WebOS user....

Alas webos is little better. Sure, it has a far better GUI than iOS or Android for tablets, but it appears most things run as root. Chrome appears to be picking up the GUI widgets so there is hope for a decent GUI yet.

There are fundamental design issues with using a phone as an enterprise device. It is not just a question of implementation, as the vendors and the management vendors would like you to believe. It is eminently losable. We expect it to be always on - and that means "always there" email with, probably, cached passwords. The screens are too small and data entry too slow for significant input.

Who wants corporate email if you have to retype your password every time you open it? That's what you need on a phone for "enterprise security". Or perhaps you'd like to use your SecurID token along with a 4 digit pin every time you unlock your phone? There's no point having a "something-you-have" authenticator because it would be attached to your keyring, kept with your phone. Even an 8-digit, alphanumeric+punctuation password would be a bit of a drag on a phone-screen keyboard. Ok, so we have a "secure" android or iOS app. We also may have NetIQ...

A phone is only a desirable device if it doesn't have enterprise security attached. Just because it "can do email" is not a reason to give it your company's email. Perhaps just sending out the headers is a compromise worth having. Unless someone makes a decent finger-print scanner for a phone, I fear this problem will stay with us. Even then, these things only work if they are rare. If everyone has a finger-print scanner, it won't be long until faking fingerprints goes mainstream.

Use your phone as a wifi modem. Leave the data on the PC. Better yet, leave the data on a host in your data centre so you only have to think about securing remote access, not every app.

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Anonymous Coward

All to play for

None of them (apart from to a degree BB) have a proper set of management tools to preconfigure devices, allow/block apps from a centralised company-funded authorised store, monitor data usage, remote wipe. A hotchpotch of poor add-ons help mitigate the worst of it a little.

At the moment IT depts are simply throwing their first line support guys under the bus by keeping execs happy with shiny toys.

Watching this spectacle is like watching Lotus vs Ferrari in a practical family car competition.

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what utter, utter twaddle

When Barak Obama became President, they took his Blackberry away an game him a HP WinPhone (6) with encrypted storage.. nobody got bragging rights because he hated it.. but I quite liked mine.

The subtext “we have this code analysis tool that we’d like you to use” is kinda valid because source-code analysis is the only way to cover all risks.. but that bares no relation in any way to the actual article on the register.. which is twaddle.

Saying ‘doesn't allow app to access data held by other apps. Microsoft is likely to reverse this’ is just plain dumb, because there is no evidence for the motive, but there is years of evidence of making the sandbox secure.

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Anonymous Coward

Register is Daily Mail?

Seriously? You're trying to suggest that a hardware device and an OS is less secure than some other device and OS based someone spotting a security feature and saying;

"The vendor is likely to reverse this"

What a crock. Not worth commenting on unless he had some suggestion that the vendor has any plan to reverse it which isn't very likely given they haven't long since built it in the first place.

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Anonymous Coward

"Get more from this author"

No thanks.

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Windows

You can work around it if you want...

Now, I'm not really sure what would make the Enterprise tick here, but I can't help wondering if the conclusion isn't a bit silly. Sure; when you look at the phone "as is" then he's right; on the phone the data being held by the apps is sandboxed.

But what's the problem? If you're using external storage such as SkyDrive or a SharePoint environment then there's nothing stopping applications to put their data on the same place. I'd say its a win-win situation here; data can be shared but only in a more restrictive manner. Because the primary data (which is apparently very important) sits on an external storage there is also no risk of said data suddenly becoming lost should the phone for some reason suddenly get out of the picture (stolen, lost, breaks down, etc.).

Granted; its not very redundant because commonly speaking the phone would always hold 2 locally stored copies (depending on how said data is being used of course). But then again...

OTOH; I also see a possible advantage. Its also possible to setup the phone so that it only accesses online data on a temporary basis: it copies the data to a temporary location, data can be edited and afterwards data is sent back to the online location and removed locally.

I fully see that this scenario probably won't benefit everyone and I fully agree that you're working around certain aspects of the phone. But really; doesn't this also /enhance/ security? As soon as said phone is reported lost you simply lock down access to these files thus resulting in a possible attacker being unable to access said data any longer.

So how is all that extra security bad for the enterprise?

Speaking of privacy... I'm surprised no one mentioned that all options which could affect your privacy are fully opt-in. From MS wanting to get data for research right to MS asking to get access to your browsing history, speech commands or picture searches. If you don't say "yes" then MS won't "snoop" on you.

Heck; they don't even bother asking about certain options; you just have to find them yourself in the settings. IMO that would also be an important qualification for a mass-used phone, especially since one of the competitors is fully opt-out where privacy is concerned.

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Meh

Speaker here!

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to leave a comment to say the article didn't really explain what I actually said. What I said was that the OS lacks some security features I'd personally like to see before using it in the enterprise environment. I specifically pointed out the lack of native disk encryption, no client side SSL certs and no inbuilt VPN functionality as features I felt were missing.

The story here has missed that and focused on the app side of things which isn't something I talked about in terms of them being an enterprise security problem.

Also to address the anonymous coward comment: "So a man selling a security tool for WP slags off security of WP?" I don't sell anything, it's an open source tool and I didn't slag off the security of WP7. In fact I did the opposite, I explained the positive security features of the OS but also pointed out the features it lacked and how that would put me off deploying it in the enterprise based on my own requirements.

Hope that's cleared up what I actually said rather than what has been reported. My slides are online if you want to see what I covered:

http://www.slideshare.net/securityninja/securitybsides-london-windows-phone-7

Dave

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