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iPad security case study: Are we there yet?

Tom Kaneshige | March 23, 2012
Six months ago, the first iPad landed at the Bank of the Ozarks. Now there are nearly 20 company-owned iPads in employees' hands, with plenty more on the way.

Bank of the Ozarks looked to an emerging app from GroupLogic, called activEcho, to be the alternative storage app on the iPad. It's an enterprise file sharing product that integrates with Active Directory and supports secure file transfers, thus keeping data on Bank of the Ozarks servers and network.

But activEcho was still in beta, and CIOs traditionally shun new products and startups. In the fast-moving world of tablets and mobile computing, CIOs have to shed some of this thinking in order to keep up. Bank of the Ozarks spent three months as a beta tester.

A Sandbox Approach to Security

GroupLogic unveiled activEcho last week on the same day Quickoffice launched Quickoffice ProSelect HD, an iPad app that lets users work with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides. The two apps are important because they work together to prevent data leakage on the iPad.

From the end user perspective, here's how it works: A Bank of the Ozarks employee can launch activEcho on the iPad and gain access to, say, a Word document residing on the corporate network. But the only option to open the Word document is in Quickoffice, not any of the other Office-like iPad apps such as Pages, Office2 HD and Docs to Go.

Once inside Quickoffice, the employee can view and edit the document. When it comes time to save the document, the employee simply has the SaveBack Only option, whereby the file saves back to the original source, such as a Sharepoint access point behind the firewall. (Quickoffice ProSelect also doesn't allow users to copy and paste outside the Quickoffice app.)

"We're creating a virtual sandbox between cooperating vendors," says Derick Naef, CTO of GroupLogic.

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CIOs such as Kuykendall must be willing to explore emerging security solutions during these heady days of mobility. But it's important to note that not all tablets are created equal. Bank of the Ozarks currently does not support Android devices, which are much maligned for their security issues.

So far, Kuykendall likes what he sees on the iPad. He says, "activEcho is another bullet in the gun in our effort to control and implement strong security of consumer data."


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