For many years, usage of Apple's Mac products in organisations was limited. Certain industries, such as publishing, advertising, entertainment and education were relatively heavy users of Macs, but penetration remained low in many other industries. For many, they were too expensive; for others, they lacked compatibility with many applications that were Windows-only. Even Apple's former head Steve Jobs once claimed that Macs were best suited to consumer use - although that was a stance he later changed.
In fact, the usage of Macs has soared over the past couple of years and, in the computer segment alone, Apple hardware sales are outpacing those of traditional PCs. But it is in the mobile segment where usage has really rocketed, especially since the introduction of the iPad. According to Netmarketshare.com, Apple's iOS operating systems currently enjoys a 58% share of the mobile and tablet market. Much of this is being fuelled by the so-called consumerisation of IT, whereby employees are increasingly eschewing corporate-issued devices in favour of those they have purchased themselves, believing them to be superior. There has been much talk about the phenomenon of BYOD, which is now a fact rather than hype, and this has been one of the prime factors in the increased use of Mac devices, and tablets in particular.
Another key driver has been the take-up of cloud computing models, and SaaS in particular, and increased use of web-based applications. Accessed via just a web browser, or a native mobile app, organisations no longer need to standardise on the same operating system or computing platform throughout their operations. Rather, users can be provisioned to use enterprise applications supplied via these newer delivery mechanisms with the use of any device that they see fit.
Given such developments, many organisations are struggling with how to keep up with ownership of Mac computers and devices, whilst ensuring that their organisations remain secure. One of the problems is that many security controls are still Windows-dependent. Organisations with large numbers of Mac users are reporting that they worry about their ability to, for example, prevent data leaking out of the organisation, or with complying with government mandates and industry standards.
Because of this, vendors need to ensure that their products are not just available for Windows-based computers, but also afford the same level of protection to Macs. Bit9 is one vendor that has taken this need seriously. It has just announced that it has made its security platform available for Mac, offering continuous monitoring and recording of all activity flowing through endpoints in real time for always-on protection, which it has fully integrated into its overall platform.
Whereas some tools on the market have ported their code over to Mac and created a separate product with separate functionality, which can work alongside existing products that are designed for Windows, but which are not truly integrated, Bit9 has built its Mac version from the ground up. It states that a main challenge was that the Mac operating system is very different to that of Windows, requiring specialised development to ensure that the same level of protection is afforded.
This is a big step forward in realising the importance of Macs in today's corporate environments and will aid considerably in closing the big vulnerability gap that exists today because there are currently many fewer enterprise type security products available, and they are generally less advanced that those available for Windows. Developments like this from Bit9 will aid organisations in getting over their misgivings and will enable them to finally feel comfortable with bringing Macs into the fold.