Will the iPhone be a Security Nightmare?: Page 2

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And then there’s the security configuration of the base operating system. In the desktop version of OS X, the user can turn on and off firewalling, for example. What’s the default configuration on the iPhone, and will the user have any ability to change it? Again, I’m hoping for an opt-out configuration that defaults to secure and requires the user to override if she chooses to.

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After all, the iPhone speaks Wi-Fi and runs UNIX – it is an Internet-connected host just like any other when connected to a network at your favorite coffee shop or airport lounge. Many of the same issues regarding safely configuring a UNIX server on the Internet are entirely relevant to configuring this little hand-held device, but we know precious little so far about it.

By all accounts, the iPhone sure looks like it’s going to be an incredible device. Indeed, if it were available on my mobile provider, I’d be getting one myself. My concern, however, is that there are so many security unknowns here that there could be trouble ahead.

I should point out that, up until about a month ago, I was using a Linux-based smart phone for my own mobile needs. It seemed to me to be quite secure from a network standpoint, but lacked any consumer-level mechanism for installing security updates. That was one of the primary reasons why I moved to a different device. But in popularity terms, that phone paled in comparison to what the iPhone is likely to hit in its first week in the market.

I, for one, hope our security expectations are in line with our functional expectations. I also hope that the smart folks at Apple have thought these issues through thoroughly and they’re ready to knock our socks off on all fronts. It’ll be an important lesson for the entire mobile device community to learn from.

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