This is a guest post from Jared Whitehead. Jared is a tech writer and an aspiring historian who works with Appnovation Technologies, an open source consulting firm. Jared often blogs about the sociology of technology and how communities organized online are affecting the political and commercial sphere.

With so many lawyers, judges and courtroom clerks using mobile devices to manage data, docs, evidence and schedules, it has been a struggle to adapt different mobile platforms to function within the security confines of the court system and legal world. When it comes to applications and software that are used, most judges and lawyers have looked to open source applications, specifically the devices that run Android.

Android Security

However, many of these mobile devices don’t have preinstalled security software, a second layer of email encryption, or the ability to wipe data if the phone is compromised. Without features like these a lot of phones don’t fall within the enterprise security parameters of many organizations and businesses, including law firms.

The iOS versus Android debate

The reason being, many people are under the impression that open source software has more security risks and is more susceptible to malware than commercial software. Even though Android has issues with malware, they are no more prevalent than instances of malware affecting devices that run commercial software. In fact, less than half a percent of users ever run into malware issues.

The problem is that within the enterprise security world, the leader, until now, has been Apple with its iOS apps that all have the same level of enterprise protection and are easily adopted by big businesses and firms. Even though many businesses allow for the use of iPhones, a majority of employees prefer devices running Android; problem being that the options for users are limited to the apps that Apple programmers have developed that only run on iOS.

Until recently, Apple iOS was viewed by many to be more secure because of the single hardware platform that had most of the security features integrated into it, whereas Android relied mostly on Samsung to provide hardware that provided the same level of security as the iPhone. With 0.7% of malware attacks targeting iOS and 79% targeting Android, it’s obvious the combination of iOS with a single piece of hardware greatly reduces security issues. Looking at iOS from 60,000 feet, you don’t easily see the holes and updates that many IT departments have to manage track down as they become a problem. This is also the case with Android, but now that security updates are being rolled out via Google Play instead of direct from app developers, we should see a decrease in the amount of malware that is causing many security problems.

We’re coming to everyone

Until now, Samsung devices that run Android have been the most secure option for mobile platforms that fit within the security parameters of the legal system. That’s great, unless you run Android on a Sony, LG, Nexus, HTC, Motorola, Nook, Kindle, Acer, Dell, Pantech, Kyocera, Toshiba or Asus device…right? Because Android is designed to operate on many different platforms, the biggest variable in the security equation is the fact that not every mobile device is created equal. With no consistency between hardware manufacturers, many devices lacked additional security measures, such as enhanced authentication or multi-level encryption.

Samsung’s Knox Workspace was developed by Appnovation and allows the device to use a cloud based container to keep work files and apps segregated from personal ones on employee mobile devices. It’s the most successful security enhancement that Android works with. Since Samsung is second behind Apple as far as enterprise security goes, it makes sense that they would team up with Google to improve things… but how?

Samsung Knox

On June 25, 2014 at I/O, Google and Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd. announced Android is integrating the successful and powerful Knox advanced security technology into the next version of Android. Soon any device running Android will have the same level of enterprise protection as previous Samsung devices, many of which have already been certified by major organizations and corporations around the world.

A whole new world

This will open up a whole host of programs, apps and cloud-based software that can be used for firm management and in the courtroom. More mobile devices from different manufacturers will be better protected and fall within most company and court system security guidelines.

The environment inside the courtroom has changed drastically in the last several years. The ease of access to data via programs like PushLegal, and the drive to tighten technology budgets within the court system and at law firms have led to an increased use of open source software and mobile devices. The trend of lawyer’s uses of mobile devices is continuing to grow, with the primary change being a shift from laptops to tablets for working remotely.

Whether you use litigation apps like PictureItSettled, file storage apps like CaseManager or the ever-present DropBox, rest assured that you will soon have greater freedom to use these open source applications on more devices in more places and with more peace of mind.

Thanks, Jared. Check out this page if you’d like to submit your guest post.

Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.

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