As technology evolves with the rise of the cloud and BYOD, so does the debate on keeping corporate information secure.
Many companies also require remote wiping capability on employee devices in case they are lost or stolen, plus communication encryption software. They also require employees not to use a single password for multiple sites, and some are forbidding passwords of a single word.
But Parris, who formerly held technical and sales management positions at Boeing Computer Services and founded Intercede, argues that securing email also requires identity management — a system that creates a digital identity for employees and other third parties connected to an enterprise, which will then track, “who is sending which email and information to whom, when and protecting it in transit and at rest.”
Even that will not ensure protection of the email, he said. “It must also be run on a secure platform that delivers tightly controlled policy to enforce data labeling, digital message signing, encryption and checking of the actual content.”
Jeff Wilson, principal analyst for security at Infonetics, agrees that an email management platform would help, since “most people are getting email on [multiple] mobile devices that could be lost, stolen, or compromised.”
But he noted a more basic problem for many companies: “They don’t even have an accurate inventory of devices connecting to their network or a framework for building a security policy and buying appropriate security solutions.”
Since email is the primary method of information sharing, enterprises must keep it secure, “to protect intellectual property and to compete in the global business environment,” Parris said.
The dark art of iOS app hacking presented at Black Hat.
There are three ways to hack an iOS app. One involves a zero-day exploit, a previously-unknown security hole. These are rare but not unheard of for iOS apps. The other two involve getting physical access to the phone, Zdziarski said.
“You can infect the phone without a passphrase. The virus or bit of code sits on the phone, waiting for the user to unlock it.” Or, he explained, “Give me two minutes with somebody’s phone and I can dump the entire file system from it.” From there, he said he could look at apps for an exploit to take advantage of remotely.
He argued that this could become a serious problem as iPhones and iPads continue to increase in popularity. Enterprise use of iOS is growing, he said, as is government use.
All due to a double-edged sword.
The problem, Zdziarski explained, comes from the double-edged sword that is the iOS monoculture. It has benefits, he said, including a reduced attack surface, rapid prototyping, and fewer holes to blame on the developer. But, he added, its homogeneous attack surface means that if you can hack one iOS device, you can hack nearly all. (While it’s true that there are different versions of iOS in use, there are significantly fewer than the different flavors of Android.)
Zdziarski noted that security has become an afterthought for iOS app developers, since they’re trusting Apple’s iOS Keychain and runtime to be secure. Keychain is the iOS feature that stores passwords, certificates, and other security-related items under encryption. “Anybody with freely available open source tools can get around that encryption now,” said Zdziarski, who said the encryption has been busted for two years. Zdziarski also showed how he didn’t even have to have the passcode to an iPhone to break its encryption. With a phone in his possession, he was able to drop a small piece of code from his computer onto the otherwise-locked phone. The code sits on the iPhone idle until the owner enters in the passcode, decrypting the file system and giving the malicious code access to the entire file system. “Developers are not turning on the encryption for most of their apps, and most users defer to a four-digit PIN, or a simple keyboard friendly passphrase.” So, although the phone’s operating system may be protected, the level of data security on the phone presumes that iOS won’t be hacked.
A great illustration of how developers need to understand the need for security trumps all.
- 19% Of iOS Apps Access Your Address Book Without Your Permission… Until iOS 6 [Report] (cultofmac.com)
- Apple investigating iOS in-app purchase hack (zdnet.com)
The best way may be encryption.
Well, if you want to take a significant step in keeping prying eyes away from your electronic correspondence, one good encryption technology that predates Google altogether is worth looking at. It’s called public key encryption, and I’m sharing some instructions on how to get it working if you want try it.
Unfortunately, better security typically goes hand in hand with increased inconvenience. But some human rights activists who used Gmail right now likely wish they’d put up with a little hardship to help keep hackers at bay. I’m not going so far as to recommend you use e-mail encryption, but I think this is a good time to take a close look at it.
Just be prepared for a major drawback.
Weighed against the encryption advantages of privacy and message signing is the fact that you’ll lose access to service you may like or depend on.
When you see an encrypted e-mail in the Web-based Gmail, it’s gibberish. Google doesn’t index it, so Gmail search doesn’t work. And the strong points of cloud computing–reading your e-mail from your mobile phone, your friend’s computer, a computer kiosk on the airport–isn’t possible. You’re once again anchored to your PC with the encryption software installed. (Source: CNET)
In the end it all depends on the importance of the data.
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