Enterprise Mobile Device Security: Personal Apple iOS Device Protection

If your enterprise allows personal devices to connect to the corporate network, you are likely to be looked to for advice and information regarding protecting those devices. Features and recommendations vary according to vendor and operating system.

Apple offers a sophisticated solution that users can employ to protect personal iOS devices such as iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices. Apple’s Find My iPhone service is a feature in MobileMe, and it's also available for free for iPhone 4 users and iPad and iPod touch devices.

At the time of this writing, Apple was transitioning its MobileMe product and service to its new iCloud product. Depending on timing, the product could still be MobileMe, or it could have its new name and feature set. If the URLs provided change, Apple will most likely redirect you to the proper pages. So MobileMe/iCloud, here we go.

The following actions available in MobileMe are key to protecting Apple iOS devices:

  • Locate lost devices using GPS. Locating a lost device using GPS is perhaps the first step that users might take if they lose their smartphone. Apple’s MobileMe Find My iPhone service provides this feature as long as the device is registered for it. The illustration below shows what users see on their computer screen when searching for an iPhone with MobileMe.

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  • Remotely lock or wipe the device. Another option is to lock the device remotely so the person who has the phone can't retrieve the contents from it. This is especially critical if the user hasn’t set up a password for the phone.

    Apple’s MobileMe provides this option. Users need to log in to MobileMe via a web browser. Once logged in, they simply select the action to remotely lock the device. The device remains locked until the user chooses to unlock it again from the same web page.

    If the user feels that the device is indeed lost, the best course of action may be to simply wipe its contents to prevent any data from falling into the wrong hands. In that case, the same service allows the user to remotely wipe the device, thereby resetting it to the factory default state.

  • Remotely play a sound or message. If the user can’t find the phone, he might want to play a sound on the lost device to attract attention to it, or simply display a message on it, something like “I’ve lost my iPhone; if you find it, please call me at 555-555-5555.”

    Both options are available via MobileMe. The user needs to log in to the MobileMe service on a computer and set a message to be displayed or select a sound to be played on the device.

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