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Entries in security (4)

Thursday
May102012

Security App for the iPad - VirusBarrier

I read a lot of articles and online posts about the iPad - and I mean a lot.  So if you asked me, what kinds of security apps are available for the iPad, last week I would have told you, "I'm just not aware of any - Apple won't provide security services with root access to the device, to make security apps worthwhile." Well, thanks to my LPM friend and colleague Dave Ries, I now know better.

There are certainly more security apps available for the iPhone than iPad, and many of those are only for devices that have been "jailbroken" (removing limitations imposed by Apple to run software not authorized by the folks in Cupertino).  As far as I know right now, there is no malware written for the iPad today - but there are still some tools that can keep you, and the ones with whom you digitally communicate, safe from future threats.

VirusBarrier ($2.99) works as a manual virus scanner for email attachments or other documents you want to save on your iPad.  When I say "manual," that means you have to run the app yourself - it doesn't work automatically, like your average desktop antivirus product.  Once you install the app, it becomes one of the options in your Open In... menu in email.  So if you receive an email attachment you don't recognize and you absolutely have to open it, press down on the attachment until Open In..., appears, and then select VirusBarrier:

The "Open In..." menu in your email app.You'll be taken to the VirusBarrier app, where the document is scanned.

VirusBarrier says the PDF file is A-OK!That's it - that's really all there is to the app.  It's a nice security blanket to have if you absolutely need to open attachments you don't recognize (or even ones you do).  That's not actually all there is, but it's the feature you'll probably use the most.  You can also add a "Remote Location," to scan files in other locations before you decide to download them to your iPad.  Right now you can add a Dropbox or iDisk account, website, and FTP or WebDAV server.  In the image below I added my Dropbox account, and am looking at my folder of Articles.

You can select individual files to scan, or you can select Scan All at the top to scan everything in a folder.  Once you're done, you can press the  button in the upper right to either open the file in another app or send it via email to yourself or others.

The Logs button will show you a listing of all the apps you've scanned recently, and the results of each scan:

For $2.99 you get a years' worth of malware definitions - presumably I'll need to pony up another $2.99 this time next year.  You can configure the app to automatically update the definitions daily, weekly, or monthly - the updates will occur on schedule, the next time you connect to a wireless network.

In all, I really like VirusBarrier - it's pretty basic, but that's really all you need for a little extra peace of mind.  Like I said before, there's currently no known malware for the iPad - but VirusBarrier can definitely protect you from passing on an infected file - nothing like being known as the "Typhoid Mary of iPad users" to ruin one's reputation.....

 

Friday
Jul222011

Your iPad Encrypted Backup is Now Crackable

A couple of months ago I told you how you could (and should) encrypt your iPad backups for better security. Well, it didn't take long for someone to find around it.  The software, called Phone Password Breaker Tool, can get past encryption on the iPhone, iPad, as well the Blackberry (take that, RIM!), and will reveal the password set on your backup - but by then, the password probably doesn't matter, does it?

Here's the good news - the software needs the device to be physically connected to the computer in order to crack the encryption.  So it's not enough if the hacker only has your iPad; they need your computer as well.  Not so good news if the hacker is a family member or co-worker.

Monday
May232011

Encrypt Your iPad Backups for Better Security

Each time you sync your iPad, it creates a backup that lives in iTunes.  It's a backup of everything that's on your iPad - which means that if you have confidential client information, there's another copy (and maybe multiple copies) of that sensitive information on your computer.  How do you protect that backup file?Fortunately, iTunes gives you a way to protect these backups by encrypting them.  In addition to being more secure about your data, you're also saving some time; if you ever have to restore your iPad from a backup, all of your passwords that you're saving on the device will be retained, whereas they won't if you're not encrypting your backup.

To set the password, connect your iPad to your computer.  Then, click your iPad's name in the sidebar, and navigate to the Summary tab.  At the bottom are Options; check Encrypt iPad Backup at the bottom.  

A dialog box will pop up asking you to enter a password.  From now on, if you try to restore your iPad from a backup, you'll be prompted to give your password first.  The backup data is also encrypted, meaning that anyone who might get ahold of your computer will be unable to view any of the files in the backup.

Friday
Apr292011

iPad Security Tip: Setting a Strong Passcode

A security tip for you today - how many of you are actually using the Passcode provided on your iPad/iPhone? You're probably carrying around some pretty sensitive stuff on your device, at least in email - you owe it to yourself and your practice to secure your iPad the best it can be secured.  And the first step in doing that is by setting a strong passcode.  

By default (unfortunately), the iPad comes with the Passcode off. Here's how to turn it on and set it:

  • Press Settings, then General.
  • To the right, Passcode Lock should show Off, if you have not already enabled it.  Press it; if you have already created a 4-digit passcode, you'll be asked to enter it now.
  • On the Passcode Lock page, you'll see Turn Passcode On. Don't touch that yet.
  • First, go to Simple Passcode and move it to the Off position.  If it's turned only, you can only create a simple, 4-digit passcode.  And we don't want something as easy as that, do we?
  • Once Simple Passcode is turned off, press Turn Passcode On.  You'll be presented with a dialog box to enter your Passcode.  Enter anything - you are not limited in the length of your passcode.  Make sure you make it strong, though - visit How Secure is My Password? to see how long it would take a computer to crack it.
  • You'll be asked to enter it twice, after which your passcode will be turned on.
  • Also, press Require Passcode, and choose the time interval after which your iPad will require a Passcode to get back in.  Choose a time period that isn't so often that you are constantly having to enter your Passcode, but is short enough so that if you leave it alone for a short time no one can get into it.

That's it!  We'll be discussing more security settings and precautions over the next few weeks, but this is a great - and necessary - first start.