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BlackBerry still trumps Android for security, analysis finds

Android too fragmented

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RIM’s BlackBerry remains the clear leader in mobile security with market share leader Android lagging badly, a ‘strengths and weakness’ analysis of the four big platforms has concluded.

Enterprise Readiness of Consumer Mobile Platforms rated each platform on the basis of a number of criteria, including general device security, app security, code signing, authentication, device wipe ability, firewalling, and virtualisation, assigning each category a score out of five.

BlackBerry 7.0 came top with an average score of 2.89, ahead of Apple’s iOS on 1.7, Windows Phone 7 on 1.61, and Android 2.3 on 1.37, an order that corresponds roughly to the age of each platform.

Given how long it has been around, Android scored relatively poorly, the younger Windows Phone relatively well. BlackBerry has a long history in the business market – the others emerged as consumer platforms – but will nevertheless feel affirmed by its strong showing in manageability and corporate device control.

“Although Android is now available in more recent versions (4.x), version 2.x is still the most widely deployed on existing and new handsets. This is a security risk in itself; there is no central means of providing operating system updates, meaning that many users remain unprotected from critical vulnerabilities for a prolonged period,” note the authors, echoing a sentiment that Google must have grown exhausted hearing from around the industry.

Importantly, the report has no direct connection to any of the platforms discussed and was researched by Altimeter Group and Bloor Research on behalf of security company Trend Micro.

“Against the growing, unstoppable backdrop of consumerisation and BYOD [bring your own device], every mobile device is a risk to business,” said Trend Micro CTO, Raimund Genes.

“There is still a strong ‘consumer marketing’ legacy in some quarters and this is negating some of the progress made on the enterprise front. Indeed, some of the attributes we have examined in the report are still firmly ‘enterprise-unready.’”      

What matters now is the extent to which each platform can continue to evolve and mature. Android undoubtedly can while the BlackBerry’s market struggles open its future to some doubt.

RIM recently botched an announcement which appeared to draw back from consumer device development in favour of its traditional business market.  The question is whether such a division is any longer meaningful in an age driven by the BYOD Trend Micro’s report highlights. The once distinct consumer and business markets could have merged into one.

One winner could be Microsoft, a company with decades of experience serving businesses and plenty of popular enterprise software to help it push Windows Phone.

Both Windows Phone 7.5 and Android 2.3 remain weak in core applications such as business messaging, however, scoring zero is almost every category analysed.


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