Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

Battle Royale: iPad and Android Tablet Security Compared

Battle Royale: iPad and Android Tablet Security Compared

How can IT pros safely enable business use of popular consumer tablets such as the Apple iPad and the Android Samsung Galaxy Tab?

According to the Pew Research Center, one in five adults in the US now own an iPad, Android or other tablet. Increasingly, workers are using these consumer tablets to access business data and networks, boosting productivity while posing new security challenges.

How can IT pros enable safe business use of these slender touchscreen computers that can do so much more than smartphones but less than legacy laptops? To understand, let’s compare the security capabilities and features provided by two of today’s most popular consumer tablets: the third-generation Apple iPad vs. the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

iPad 3iPad 3Apple iPads (iOS 6)

Apple’s third-generation iPad is of course today’s best-selling touchscreen tablet. This 9.7-inch LED-backlit tablet boasts a 2048 x 1536 Retina display, dual-core A5X CPU, 16 to 64 GB storage, and a 5MP camera, along with 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and optional 4G (LTE) network connectivity. Under the hood, every iPad can now run iOS 6, Apple’s latest operating system for both tablets and smartphones.

The third-generation iPad is twice as fast and bright as its predecessor.  However, little has changed when it comes to security. Except where noted, all security and management capabilities also apply to all other contemporary Apple mobile devices running iOS 6, such as the new iPad Mini.

Samsung Galaxy Tabs (Android 4)

Samsung Galaxy TabSamsung Galaxy TabBy comparison, the Android tablet market ishighly fragmented. Today’s top-selling Android tablets include the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Motorola XOOM, the ASUS Transformer, the Acer Iconia Tab, and (coming on fast) the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus Tab. Some of these tablets are still powered by Google’s Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) OS, although many products shipped in the past year are now being upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or Android 4.1/4.2 (Jelly Bean). To illustrate, we’ll look at one Android 4-based tablet: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The first generation Galaxy Tab 10.1-inch tablet sported a 1280 x 800 WXGA TFT LCD display, 1GHz dual-core CPU, up to 64 GB storage, and a 3MP camera, along with dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 3.0, and optional 3G (HSPA). The second generation Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 added a microSD slot. Currently, both Galaxy 10.1 Tabs and their 7” siblings run Android 4.0.4. In this article, we’ll also note security capabilities that tend to vary by OS version and tablet make/model, such as Samsung’s proprietary SAFE extensions.

Lisa PhiferLisa PhiferLisa Phifer owns Core Competence, a consulting firm focused on business use of emerging network and security technologies. Since 1997, Lisa has reviewed, deployed and tested mobile policies and practices, ranging from wireless/VPN security to device/data defenses.

See here for all of Lisa's Tom's IT Pro articles.


Additional Mobile Device Management Articles

How Secure Are Your Mobile Devices?

Top 5 Wireless Certifications for IT Pros

What to Look for in Mobile Device Management Systems

Symantec Talks Up Enterprise Mobility Security @ MobileCON 2012

Google Extends Google Apps for Mobile Devices

Mobile Device Management in the Cloud

Android Security: Third Party Options