There’s a fairly heated public debate going on between the FBI and Apple over one of the San Bernardino shooter’s employee provided smart phone(Yahoo! Article). The short version is that the FBI wants Apple to break into the phone for them so they can continue their investigation. Seems like a reasonable request until you learn that the FBI cracked the iCloud account password associated with the phone and then changed it, which reset the encryption key and effectively locked themselves out of the phone. There is another mis-step on the employer’s part in that while they owned licensing for a Mobile Device Management software which could have unlocked the phone via an administrator, it wasn’t installed.
Regardless of whether you support the FBI or Apple in the situation, mistakes were made that created a situation that could’ve been very easily avoided. If your business provides smart phones to employees, at $4/month a Mobile Device Management add-on is a very low cost solution to avoid a situation like what is unfolding in the San Bernardino case. It’s essentially a way to have a master key to the phone along with managing what apps can be installed and how the phone can be used. This not only assures a consistent user experience but also helps to reduce support of these devices. This software can also manage tablets and not just smart phones.
We have had to do forensics work on smart phones(and computers) a number of times in the past for issues dealing with child pornography suspicions, fraud, etc. Paying the $4/mo is a MUCH cheaper solution. The tools, time and skill level required to even make any attempts at recovering such evidence is extensive and there’s no guarantee of success. Undoubtedly there are some situations where legal expenses can also become a factor in addition to the technical costs.
If your business does not have a policy in regards to personal use of company property(smartphones, computers, etc) and/or permissible behavior during working hours, we strongly recommend you draft one and outline what is permissible use of the device(s).
For business owners / IT Directors we recommend that this be added to your “Important but not Urgent” column before it moves to the “Urgent” one.
Below is an ABC interview with Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook