If a picture paints a thousand words, and the pen is mightier than the sword, just how dangerous is an iPad?
At first glance, it looks safe enough. From a design point of view, it’s hardly adventurous, looking very much like Dom Joly‘s Trigger Happy iPhone (I think my favorite is at 3mins15seconds, but watch to the end if you can). From a trademark point of view, “iPad” shares obvious conceptual and visual similarities with “iPod” too. And if you’re from the right part of Belfast, the two names might even sound identical…
Most applications now work on the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, so what’s the big difference?
Well, the big difference is that it’s big and is being used differently. Consider the following.
Whereas the iPod and the iPhone are usually (although by no means exclusively) used in a leisure capacity, the majority of people I have seen using the iPad are doing so in a business capacity, taking down customers’ details or conducting market research in the street and recording names etc. These iPads are therefore very likely to hold commercial levels of sensitive (and therefore valuable) data that can be used by hackers and spammers.
And the size of the iPad, with its bright, clear, visible-from-all-angles screen, makes the risk of inadvertant disclosure of these sensitive details all the more likely. A few years ago I reviewed some new technology for a feature in the Law Society Gazette. As part of the test I was given a 17in widescreen laptop to use on my commute. I found that not only was it cumbersome, but I had real difficulty trying to keep what I was doing confidential. It became impossible for me to review any papers or witness statements since people beside me, behind me and walking past me were all able to read what I was doing. You can read the review here.
So how dangerous is the iPad? Well, if you’re careless about how it is being used, commercial users could easily disclose personal, sensitive data about their customers in the most low-tech of ways: peeping Toms looking over your shoulder. On the other hand, if users are careful then all you have to worry about is whether you’re one of the 114,000 people whose iPad user accounts were compromised by a security breach, although you can take some comfort in the fact that the breach was so bad that the F.B.I. are now involved.