Apple iPad: The Evolution of Home Computing
But the application vetting process should, at least in theory, police some appropriate coding policies. Again, for consumers, that's a good thing. All the software that is available to the consumer via Apple 's App Store has been vetted and signed. At a minimum, it must comply with Apple's coding policies.
One highly controversial example of that policy in action is Apple's exclusion of all Flash content. I'm not going to dive into that political firefight, but Flash does relieve the platform of at least some degree of control over what can and cannot run on the system. I have to believe that that was at least a motivating factor in excluding Flash from the iPad. There's certainly no shortage of malware in the wild that has used malicious Flash content as its launch vector. I am one iPad consumer who is relieved and grateful to have it excluded from my device.
The result of all this is a platform that is simple, intuitive and highly usable for common home computing tasks. Consumer-friendly activities like viewing photos, listening to music and watching movies have never been simpler or better. I just loaded hundreds of photos of my new basset hound puppy onto my iPad, and I can't imagine a more perfect platform to show her off to my friends and family than my iPad.
And, even though I am not an average consumer of high-tech devices, I have absolutely no need to understand the underlying organization and architecture of the iPad. The apps I've installed just plain work. How can that not be a boon to the consumers of the world?
Not all is perfect in paradise, of course. To be truly useful, the iPad really needs a computer -- Mac or Windows PC -- to sync with. Some of the apps aren't powerful enough for heavier needs. But it's all a great step in the right direction. I'm convinced the model that Apple has laid out with the iPad is the future of home computing. I can't wait to see how it evolves over the next couple of years now that the software developers have it in their hands.
Time will tell if I'm right about the security aspects, but I'm betting the problems with malware, viruses and the like that we see on other platforms will be virtually obliterated with the iPad model. What consumer won't find that a breath of fresh air?
With more than 20 years in the information security field, Kenneth van Wyk has worked at Carnegie Mellon University's CERT/CC, the U.S. Deptartment of Defense, Para-Protect and others. He has published two books on information security and is working on a third. He is the president and principal consultant at KRvW Associates LLC in Alexandria, Va.
Read more about security in Computerworld's Security Knowledge Center.
Product mentioned in this article
Apple iPad Tablet Computer
Apple looks set to shake up casual computing with a tablet that offers clever design and ease of use. But that streamlined approach may also be the iPad's weakness.
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