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Biometrics on the horizon for Apple devices

Science fiction movies have it easy. When characters need to get into a vault, they just slide their thumbs over a fingerprint scanner and a door opens.

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Biometrics on the horizon for Apple devices

biometrics, byod, mobile device management


Science fiction movies have it easy. When characters need to get into a vault, they just slide their thumbs over a fingerprint scanner and a door opens. Instant access, no 20-character passwords to remember, and all they need is a good set of fingerprints. The reality may be even more convenient. The modern vault is filled with data and enterprise applications, and iPhone users may soon be able to access it with a quick thumb swipe. 

Apple has traditionally marketed devices like the iPhone as consumer-focused, but that doesn't mean the company is ignoring the enterprise. According to a recent Forbes article, Apple has acquired the biometrics company AuthenTec. AuthenTec's technology will allow Apple to use fingerprint scanning with its devices to authenticate user identities - something that is a little more difficult to hack than passwords and PIN numbers. It may be easy to forget a password, but employees rarely forget to bring their fingerprints with them.

"Despite its consumer-focus, Apple devices have already made their way into enterprises, thanks to the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend," a recent TechTarget article stated. "The number of iPhones in the enterprise has doubled last year and the number of iPads had tripled during the same timeframe, Apple said during its most recent earnings conference call."

Implications for iOS device management
One of the major challenges for implementing effective mobile device management (MDM) is securing devices without overly limiting access. Employees don't want to wait for their productivity applications, and, in a BYOD environment, they don't want the company limiting access to their personal data.

As a recent ECommerce Times article pointed out, it's important for businesses to balance data security with user empowerment. The article recommended integrating mobile device management technology with existing options, such as Active Directory. However, mobile device and application policies can also be used to protect sensitive data. For example, companies can ensure only employees whose identities have been biometrically identified can access data within their clouds or create access levels with MDM solutions to make certain that data stored even on personal devices is secure.

Mobile device management: Don't reinvent the wheel
MDM should not be cumbersome. The most effective solutions offer support for a large range of platforms from the beginning and feature updates to support new technology innovations as they evolve. Choosing a flexible solution prevents MDM from becoming a burden because it allows businesses to adapt instead of having to redesign their MDM strategies to manage new technology.

"The answer is not to reinvent email with a cumbersome and redundant infrastructure and UI," the article stated. "Instead, the focus should be on following best practices for data protection, practices that should have been in place before BYOD. This means managing the data separately - at least when the data includes highly confidential documents and media files."

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