7 types of security features for your tablet
April 6, 2012 in Medical Technology
With the release of the “new” iPad, an increased focus has been placed on how to protect sensitive information. And although there are a myriad of basic ways to safeguard your device, certain security features have become necessary to take tablet protection one step further.
“Clearly, healthcare is a vertical that is more concerned, or needs to be more concerned, about security, more so than any other vertical because of the personal info they’re dealing with,” said John Bischof, executive director of sales operations for Lenovo Americas.
And with tablets in particular, Bischof continued, there’s a number of added security concerns users need to be aware of. “When you look at PCs, they’ve had years and years to see and react to security issues – mainly hackers and people who try to break into the operating systems. When you look at tablets, because of their mobility, the bigger concern isn’t just that, but also the loss of the lack of control of data that the IT center has … as tablets explode across the world in terms of the volume, that’s becoming a big place for hackers to break into.”
Bischof outlines seven types of security features all tablet owners should consider employing.
1. Encryption. Consider encrypting the data stored on USB devices, Bischof suggested, and also the data found on SD cards. “Being able to encrypt those things is critical, because if someone were to steal or plug their own SD card into a device they come across, by encrypting the data, you prevent them from getting anything useable.” This can also come in handy for an employee using an SD card for his/her own convenience. “If someone comes across it and the data is encrypted, it’s not usable by anyone outside of the company.”
2. Remote wipes. Using specific types of software, the IT department can have the power to remote wipe a lost device. “So if someone comes in and they say, ‘Oh I was at the airport and someone stole by device,’ the IT center can go in remotely and activate the wipe,” said Bischof. “Then the data is destroyed.”
[See also: Tablet PC's fate?.]
3. Data leakage protection. This includes disabling USB ports, SD card slots, device cameras and the microphone, if you choose to do so. It’s a critical function, Bischof said, and isn’t something the IT department has to do on their own. By employing a partner, devices can arrive at an organization and be given to employees with limited functionality. “You don’t have to make the IT department go in and configure each device,” he said. “But sometimes, [an organization] doesn’t want [tablets] to have that capability.” You will lose a bit of your tablet’s efficiency, Bischof said, yet, more and more organizations are opting for this feature. “The beauty of it is, they have options available. There are many different paths they can take to protect themselves, and that’s one some do take.”
4. Storing data on a desktop. If an organization does chose to disable USB ports and SD card slots, Bischof recommended considering apps that allow you to store data remotely on a desktop. “You don’t have to hardwire it; you can store the data on a desktop by using [the app's] functionality.” And as a result, you don’t lose functionality because of disabled ports. “You don’t lose the ability to have the efficiency of that mobility and data exchange,” he said. “The data is now on a desktop in the office.”
5. Customizable app stores. “That’s a big thing,” said Bischof. “One of the big problems of the Andriod operating system is anyone can go in and take an app and put it out there, and it can be a malware app.” By making a customizable app store, he said, you can limit what people come across in terms of apps. “They’re limited in what they can download and it’s not wide open,” he said. “You bring the control back to the IT center.” He added if you’re comfortable with one app store, like Amazon, you could limit users to that one store as well.
[See also: iPad 2 looks even better for doctors.]
6. Perimeter settings. Through specific programs, organizations have the ability to disable ports once a tablet leaves a set perimeter. “So that’s something that’s pretty nifty,” Bischof said. “Again, it’s giving the IT center that control. People can’t walk out the door and who whatever they want to do. It’s key.”
7. Auto-lock and auto-erase functions. Bischof went “back to the basics,” and suggested all users take advantage of the auto-lock and auto-erase functions. “Those all have to be utilized within the framework of the function,” he said. It’s possible, he added, to give the IT department the power to manage the passwords, “so employees have to utilize the IT center password and not their own to configure the device. … That’s one more everyone should be aware of. It’s basic, but it’s critical.”
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