The three main tablet devices have security failings that could deter their use in an enterprise environment.
The research by Context Information Security found that there were significant differences in security levels between the Galaxy tablet, the Apple iPad and BlackBerry PlayBook.
Context investigated a number of security controls to determine whether they are suitable for enterprise use, these included data protection, software integrity and updates, access control, security configuration profiles and connectivity, along with backup and synchronisation.
It found that the Samsung Galaxy Tab had serious weaknesses that make it difficult to recommend for use in the enterprise, while the iPad and Blackberry PlayBook both have security problems including desktop software that does not encrypt backups by default.
Context found that the PlayBook was the only device found to have a workable solution to enable bring your own device (BYOD) and providing good separation between personal and work data.
Jonathan Roach, principal consultant at Context and author of the report said: “The device format is perfect for social networking and creating and sharing documents, presentations and other content on-the-fly, but the same characteristics also present tough security challenges for organisations.
“Our research suggests that most tablet manufacturers still have a way to go before their products can deliver the high levels of security required for use in most corporate enterprises.”
The research further found that the three selected tablets have reasonably good support for Exchange ActiveSync, which means that the core security configurations can be managed from a central Exchange server, yet there are significant differences in security levels between the Galaxy tablet and the iPad and PlayBook.
Regarding the iPad, it was found to have robust data protection and damage limitation facilities, yet the default behaviour for iTunes backups is to store the files in clear text; the same approach adopted for the BlackBerry.
Also the Samsung Tablet does not ship with a locked bootloader, and Context said that the disk encryption provides weaker support, which is more intrusive to use. Even when encryption is enabled on the Galaxy, it allows badly-written apps to store sensitive information on the unencrypted SD card.
Overall, Context found that the Blackberry is far more advanced in its level of readiness for BYOD than either of the other two tablets. Its Balance architecture in combination with the Bridge application, provide excellent logical and data separation between work and personal modes.