by Michael Shapiro | October 21, 2011

There isn't a lot of security inherent in an iPhone or iPad to begin with, but bugs such as this one, uncovered yesterday by, make the matter that much more disconcerting. Due to a bug in iOS 5 (and possibly in earlier versions, too), curious scoundrels can bypass the security passcode required to unlock an iPad 2 simply by opening and closing a Smart Cover in the right fashion. (The video describes exactly how that's done, if you're curious.) Now, if your iPad went to sleep on the home screen, prying eyes won't see much more than which apps you have installed. But if it slept while you were in the Mail app, for instance, the thief gets full access to your messages and accounts. Disabling Smart Cover unlocking in the settings can temporarily fix the flaw, reports 9to5Mac, and it's likely Apple will fix the problem quickly. Still, the bug begs the question of just what security precautions your company is taking with respect to these devices -- especially as we move, en masse, towards using tools like the iPad to manage events from the show floor.
Our own tech support at magazine HQ recommends that employees use the security passcodes, for starters. For any companies that use an Exchange server, mobile devices that access company e-mail can be wiped clean remotely; once reported lost, the IT department can erase all data on the device once someone powers it on. With the new iOS 5, that same functionality is available on Apple devices for free through iCloud -- which can also track the device's location before you decide to delete all data.
What other security measures do you take to protect your company's data, such as mobile security software packages? I'd be interested in hearing as much, as well as tales of mobile security problems you've had to tackle. How often do your colleagues lose their devices at conferences? I'd love to address some security tips in an upcoming article in M&C.