Choosing the right tablet for business

The closed nature of Apple’s tablet OS helps with security to an extent: iOS includes built-in 256-bit hardware encryption and supports remote wiping and locking, while longer passwords can now replace four-digit pins.

On the Google side, Android 4 introduced on-device encryption and support for remote lock and erase, either through Google Apps Device Policy or other MDM solutions. There has been a surge in Android malware, but anti-malware solutions exist for all the platforms.

Nexus 10

Tablets running Windows 8 Pro have access to BitLocker, AppLocker and Secure Boot. “If a device is lost, the data is safe,” says Burgess. “We can treat that device purely as written off.”

Windows 8 Pro tablets also work with Dynamic Access Control, allowing administrators to set different security levels depending on the device, user and location.

For example, when out of the office, only a limited subset of files will be visible. Once again, Windows RT tablets need to be handled slightly differently; device-level encryption is supported by the OS, but not BitLocker encryption.

Beyond the security features built into the platforms, securing tablets is much the same as securing any device that leaves the office. Physical security is difficult, but discrete cases, mandatory strong passwords or pin codes, and robust policies can all help, along with setting up intelligent and effective ways to get data on and off the tablet.

If a business uses encrypted USB sticks for data, then it makes sense to use tablets that support these (such as a Windows 8 Pro model), while properly secured cloud storage services are better than consumer alternatives or – worse – users emailing sensitive files.

“If something is simple to do then people will do it,” says Burgess. “If the corporate way of doing something is difficult to do, then people will find their own ways of doing it.”

Top apps

We reveal the 26 top apps for Android tablets and the best apps for the iPad

The trick is to make things so easy that people fall naturally into “your method, the managed method, the secure method – and then you can keep an idea of what’s going on”.

An alternative approach is to use a tablet as a client for cloud-based or virtualised applications, where all the data is stored on servers either inside the company or a trusted third-party data centre.

“Many companies are thinking about desktop virtualisation or cloud-based solutions where data isn’t actually stored on the device,” says Dell’s Griffin. “That’s probably the most secure way of doing it, but companies need to look at their own infrastructure and understand what works for them.”


An investment in tablets also means an investment in software, whether it’s buying new apps, commissioning bespoke ones or developing your own. This doesn’t have to be expensive, but take time to evaluate all the options. Will a word processor open and save your documents without disastrous reformatting? Will a presentations app support the features in your PowerPoint presentations?

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