Apple's "Dangerous Game" and Mobile BI

September 29, 2014 by Nate Williams

It seems that implementing stronger security standards is not without risk.  As the New York Times recently noted, Apple’s move to add full disk encryption to iOS 8 and remove any built-in backdoors has not won kudos from the N.S.A. and F.B.I.:

The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities.

This development has already generated some interesting commentary in legal circles.  Cyberlaw professor Orin Kerr calls it, “Apple’s dangerous game”.  And although he’s since updated his initial assessment, he notes that his concerns are not a closed case.

However, there are bigger considerations for Apple here than just making the iPhone more secure for trading Instagram posts or live tweets from Coachella.  Never mind the consumer; Apple needs to deliver better security for its enterprise customers.

In the enterprise world, the rapid evolution of Mobile BI has made iOS a major BI platform. This is still in the early stages – but it’s a fast moving train.  Among BI trends this year, the upsurge of Mobile BI is at the top of the list and this is creating a big shift in the enterprise.

Mobile BI is now an integral part of the data ecosystem.  And for good reasons.  As Michael Hiskey noted in the #BIWisdom tweetchat, Mobile BI is much better at engaging users than traditional reporting:

#MobileBI benefit is undeniable: @MicroStrategy internal data suggests #Mobile users have 40x more touches w Reports & #Analytics #BIWisdom

— Michael H (@mphnyc) August 29, 2014

But the presence of backdoor access to iOS undermines this, even if it’s useful for law enforcement.  As Julian Sanchez observed in his excellent reminder of lessons learned from the Crypto Wars:

More or less by definition, a backdoor for law enforcement is a deliberately introduced security vulnerability, a form of architected breach

Given Enterprise IT’s need for data governance and security, this is a real problem.  Even if BI vendors make their own applications secure on iOS, how can they fully protect the data or access information that might make its way into email, notes, and other parts of iOS?

So there’s a large upside to eliminating the backdoors from iOS.  Apart from some headaches for law enforcement, it’s good news for the future of Mobile BI.


Image by: Yanki01