A few weeks back, my colleague Scott Ball was asked by the mobile security experts at SecureBuzz.ca about whether or not the mobile tablets being used by defense industry manufacturers are really as secure as their operations mandate.
The answer could be yes or no. It all depends on how the tablet was designed and how many internal and external safeguards the mobile PC manufacturer chose to build in – either as standard or as optional features. Typically, a tablet’s skill set is determined by the likely use case. That’s why today’s most rugged tablets, built to perform the most laborious mobile tasks in the most extreme and most exposed business environments, will feature a more comprehensive security suite than any other mobile PC device. It doesn’t matter if they run on Windows™ and Android™ operating systems; both offer significant security measures for industrial use cases.
Often, the choice of an Operating System (OS) is determined by the software chosen to run on the device. Many applications used in the commercial space are designed for Windows. But today there are more programs written for Android, partly because there are so many tablets across a spectrum of capabilities. So does Android stack up as a secure environment? Since Scott already spoke a bit about the Windows OS security measures employed for defense-level environments, I want to quickly balance the scales for those who find Android OS is their business’ sweet spot. I want to reaffirm that Android mobility doesn’t have to mean data insecurity in any industry either, including government, manufacturing, public safety, or telecommunications. Though Windows has long been trusted as a secure mobile OS – and the solid business choice – Android now has similar capabilities. Regardless of old perception, Android and Windows are both competent at keeping your mobile data on lockdown. Let me explain: As many industry experts have noticed, Android tablets are no longer limited to consumer use cases. Android mobile PCs are being fortified with supremely rugged chasses designed to guard against environmental threats to mobile operations such as water, dust, vibrations, and HazLoc elements. But as we know all too well, there are more than just external threats to mobile data and devices in all industries – threats that can cause irreparable damage.
Cybersecurity is now the IT priority of every organization, or it should be. With the proliferation of mobile workers – and mobile devices – the opportunity for data breaches exist literally everywhere your workers and their mobile PCs go.
So while rugged tablet manufacturers have upped the ante on external safeguards, Android has introduced several extreme security measures to its Android 5.1, Lollipop OS that offer an all-out defensive strategy against data breaches from the inside out. That doesn’t mean every Android tablet offers the same level of security, though, just like not every Windows mobile PC has activated the same security options.
To be sure your Android rugged tablet employs the proper internal security architecture for your mobile workflows and device usage, you have to know exactly what to look for:
- Malware Safeguards : Android 5.1 OS provides a critical Security-Enhanced Linux (SELinux) feature to lower the risk of vulnerabilities in all applications you may deploy to mobile workers. It also offers security policy enforcement at the kernel level/
- Data Encryption : For the first time, Android 5.1, Lollipop OS will automatically turn on data encryption on all new rugged tablets. This default setting ensures data is protected from the moment a mobile worker powers on that tablet, scrambling data that can only be accessed with a special password-managed security key.
- Bluetooth Security: Android Smart Lock is perhaps the most unique security feature of the Lollipop OS. It allows Android-powered rugged tablets to be secured by Bluetooth when paired with an Android Wear device or your Android-powered automobile.
- Device Protection : Some rugged tablets running Android 5.1 allow enterprises to set geographical safe zones. This feature is appealing for organizations that need to limit sensitive data access – and therefore device usage – to highly secure facilities. Newer Android rugged tablets can also be locked down if the mobile PC is lost or stolen; any attempt to reset the tough tablet’s password requires verification of the associated Google account’s information.
- Physical Security: Can the Android mobile PC be securely docked into a vehicle or work station? Can I lock down the device after a worker’s shift to prevent it from “walking off”? All valid questions to determine the physical security capabilities of rugged tablets, especially considering that a lost or stolen device could be one of the easiest ways to breach data. Make sure your Android mobile PC has a Kensington cable lock option at a minimum.
Fortunately, for enterprises that need a rugged tablet that will lockdown its data inside and out, Android rugged tablets have stepped up their game by adding many of the current state-of-the-art security measures. If you’ve committed to an Android rugged tablet – perhaps because the open source environment is ideal for the unique workflow needs of your industrial or HazLoc operating environment – then you can have peace of mind that Android’s security tools will keep your mobile workers protected when they’re focused on the job at hand.