Despite Apple’s enterprise nod with the iPhone OS 2.0 feature set there are two fairly glaring omissions that make it difficult to use the iPhone in a corporate setting: the lack of encryption of the file system as a whole (or even just the message store) and the lack of available on-board virus scanners for the device (despite promises from prominent vendors). Without the former, it is nigh impossible to store client or customer data on the device, unless you are comfortable with the risk of financial penalties and reputation loss in the event you lose your iPhone. The latter is not as gnarly, but would require a policy exception at most mid-to-large companies and may prevent the device from being on the preferred list.
Intego has come up with a creative solution to one of those two remaining problems with VirusBarrier X5 10.5.3, their award winning virus scanner for OS X 10.4 & 10.5. Virus barrier has all of the traditional, crunchy goodness of system virus scanners, including real-time/on-demand scanning, heuristic/behavioral analysis, quarantine & trusted zones, event-based & scriptable scanning and the ability to detect & eliminate Windows viruses (very handy for BootCamp users). VirusBarrier can also integrate with your e-mail workflow and scan mail before you send and/or as you receive messages. The product developers realized just how vulnerable users of the iPhone are and came up with a creative way for their product to protect these new mobile devices as well.
NOTE: You can give this a try yourself via Intego’s free demo
After installing VirusBarrier X5, you can select a connected iPhone via the scan target chooser:
The scanner will connect to your phone and begin copying files to your local system (where the software can scan them):
A significant caveat is that your phone will reboot during this process, so pick a time when you can be incommunicato. The scanner worked quickly during my test, so this should not be a real problem.
I asked the Intego developers what prompted them to add the iPhone to the feature set of VirusBarrier and they said that with the new ability to install applications (that can then create or obtain files) the device is now open to attack and that “ddditionally, users ‘jailbreaking’ (unlocking) an iPhone can install even more applications, increasing this risk of malware and infected files.”
The developers also pointed out that “there are a number of known vulnerabilities for the iPhone,
which leave the device open to remote attack. We [Intego] do not publish a list of such vulnerabilities, but you can find some of them listed here.”
The Future Of Onboard Scanning
The iPhone SDK does not allow applications to be written that operate as background tasks nor does it allow access to protected areas of the filesystem. Applications can access the
Documents folders of each other, and this means that the future of onboard virus scanning may be relegated to on-demand-only scheduling of third-party application areas. If Apple is serious about gaining a foothold in the enterprise, they should work closely with developers like Intego to find a way to provide a more robust interface for these types of services.
Win A Chance To Be Secure!
Intego has provided TAB with 20 copies of VirusBarrier X5 and 20 copies of Personal Backup X5 to give away to our readers. Just post a comment (with your real e-mail address) by midnight (PST) Wednesday (August 27) indicating which one you’d like (one comment per-person, per-product) and we’ll do a random drawing and announce the winners Thursday.
Also, if you are a VirusBarrier user, drop us a note in the comments with your experiences.