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Securing ruggedized tablets for enterprises

Scott Ball, Xplore Technologies

5-October-2015 Mobility doesn’t have to mean insecurity.

Some vendors have an area specifically designated for defense manufacturing, which is outside of the area used for commercial manufacturing. A tablet used in the defense area isn’t allowed to leave that area.

So the defense unit tablets are geo-fenced.  If they leave the network subject area, a message on the screen flashes saying, ‘Please bring it back.” Or its use can be blocked.

“You can’t nail them down, because its purpose is mobility,” said Scott Ball, Sales Director, Canada for Xplore Technologies. “Sure you can lock it with a cable lock, however you bought it so users can move around with it. So you need more sophisticated security. You can geo-track them with firmware, and if need be, wipe them remotely.”

The firmware also helps customers gain understanding of their device inventories, and track usage of the Xplore ruggedized Windows 7, 8, and 10 Enterprise tablets.

“Within all of our products, security is important for an enterprise class mobile device,” Ball said. “You have an entire desktop computer in your hands, and the ability to have lots of data on it, much like a laptop. On the hardware front we make sure the device has the components and security features our customers want to see.”

These units are designed to fit into defense-level environments, allowing customers to apply their own security protocols from hardware and software perspectives.

Docking stations come with key locks. The unit itself has a cable lock, and can connect to a keyboard using magnets. There’s a smart card option or biometric login.  And of course the unit ties into the customer’s internal VPN.

“We typically don’t copy someone else’s products… we design and develop,” Ball said. “Our 37 technology patents include antennae design, as well as security features our tablets have. We design accessories and docking stations around security.”

Some tablets have large screens and unlike a typical laptop, no lid that can be closed. In investigative and health care situations the user can turn off the display immediately with one push of a button, blocking those not authorized from seeing the information displayed.

Part of the workflow for a user of a vehicle mounted unit is driving the vehicle. An accelerometer in the dock will shut off the keyboard, and blank the screen, which reduces corporate liability.

If a vehicle is in a crash, the log will show the computer was locked out, which protects the corporation and helps establish them as a good community member.

“We’re also installing full data encryption with solid state drives that are self-encrypting,” Ball said. “The encryption is built into the drive itself, and therefore very difficult to circumvent.”