The Tech Herald

HP’s TouchPad frenzy a reason to place IT security in context

by Steve Ragan - Aug 29 2011, 11:00

The recent frenzy of passive gadget consumers and IT professionals who rushed to purchase the HP TouchPad during a massive fire sale, has opened the door for security research and planning, eEye Digital Security’s CTO Marc Maiffret said.

When word of HP’s horrible earnings announcement spread, the secondary story was that they were scrapping their tablet computer division. This kicked off a liquidation, which had consumers flocking to stores and websites in order to snag the 16GB tablet for less than $100.

Online, the massive volume of traffic cause some sites to crash, and soon the TuchPad stock was depleted. Now, while some 16GB models are available, they are for full retail. The 32GB models are full retail as well. Still, thousands of people got a shiny toy for a cheap price.

“I recently watched IT administrator mailing lists buzzing with conversations about where everyone could buy an HP TouchPad - with the almost free price, now that HP has discontinued the product,” Maiffret commented on the eEye blog.

“HP is offering a tablet that you can be sure is hooking up to corporate email and accessing corporate documents. We’re talking about a device with seemingly no future of security maintenance at all. When I see people rushing to buy TouchPads and put the security of that into context, I think this is a great time to discover vulnerabilities that could compromise TouchPads.”

External devices that are allowed access to a network represent both a positive use of resources and a dangerous risk. It’s a battle that has existed since RIM gave us the BlackBerry.

“It already takes companies like Microsoft and Oracle extremely long periods of time to fix vulnerabilities in their software. Surely, weaknesses found in the TouchPad will be good for quite some time, regardless of whether or not HP plans to maintain webOS,” Maiffret added.

“Cases like this go beyond the security implications of thousands of new TouchPad devices potentially putting corporate information at risk. It makes me think that we are losing, or maybe have completely lost, a great mobile OS and much needed competition in a mobile market dominated by Apple.”

Does your network suddenly have some additional devices thanks to the fire sale? How will you manage them? Let us know in the comments below.

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