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Apple iPad Security: Jury Out

Stocks in this article: AAPL SY CSCO

Apple has not yet responded to TheStreet's request for comment on this article, although the company's Web site touts the iPad's many "layers of security."

"You can require complex passcodes to access important information securely, encrypt data over the air and at rest, and even remotely wipe everything from your iPad instantly in the event of theft or loss," it said.

Apple, for example, extended its MobileMe software to the iPad earlier this month, which lets users remotely lock, wipe and locate the devices. In a clear nod to corporate security, Apple also supports Cisco (CSCO) virtual private network (VPN) technology on the iPad.

Apple iPad
Apple's iPad

"IT departments can enforce complex passcodes and other policies on iPad to protect corporate data," explains the Apple Web site. "And certificate-based authentication enables iPad to securely connect with corporate data via Exchange and VPN."

However, Jack Gold of analyst firm J.Gold Associates, says that the iPad still has some way to go before it is a bona fide business tool.

"It might be ok for thin client applications where no data gets transferred to the device and accesses the device via a VPN," he wrote, in an email. " But there is no way to monitor the device at this time for regulatory compliance, so a company might not even know if the data is lost, and be out of compliance if they allow its use for business purposes."

Other experts, however, are more positive on the iPad, such as Qualys' Kandek, who says that the device has been built "from the ground up" with integrated security.

"Applications are tightly controlled by Apple, as are updates to the OS itself," he explained. "Apple is also working on better management tools that cater for enterprise administrators in the coming versions of the OS, which will help its acceptance a tremendous amount."

"Apple has been aggressive about adding features to products if it believes they are being held back," adds Charles King, president of research firm Pund-IT. "If the company is serious about driving iPad use among companies, I expect more business-friendly features will appear in next generation releases and updates."

The iPad, of course, shares an operating system with the popular iPhone, something which could help boost its corporate presence.

"iPad is just as secure as the iPhone for the enterprise," said 451 Group analyst Chris Hazelton. "Both are not the Blackberry, for which you can control pretty much every enterprise setting on the device, but they address the big issues such as enforcing the use of passwords and remote wipe."

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