The 2015 San Bernadino attack led by perpetrators, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, left 14 dead and 22 injured. Farook's iPhone was assigned to him by his employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. By February 2016, the investigation spurred another national debate regarding personal privacy vs. national security as Apple refused to comply with the FBI request to create a way to unlock Farook's iPhone.

While this is a very important national discussion that requires a sober and creative legal and technical solution, there is another angle that deserves some attention from an IT Operations perspective. This entire iPhone password reset issue could have been prevented if the device was properly secured and managed.

Apple provides mobile device management functionality; such that, "iOS and OS X have a built-in framework that supports mobile device management (MDM), which allows you to securely and wirelessly enroll and configure devices in your organization (whether they are owned by the user or the organization). Management includes updating device settings, monitoring compliance with organizational policies, and remotely wiping or locking devices." In addition, Apple's mobile device management capability allows a remote administrator to clear a passcode lock and clear restrictions password.

  • Clear a passcode lock: This task is used when a user has forgotten the passcode and wants the organization to clear it, allowing the user to enter a new passcode.
  • Clear restrictions password: Supports clearing the restrictions and restrictions password set on the iOS device by the user. This feature is available for supervised devices only.

In addition, there are many third party Mobile Device Management tools as well that would provide effective remote management tools for smartphones. The third party researcher, Gartner, published their 2015 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Mobility Management Suites which indicates VMWare's AirWatch and MobileIron are some of the top industry leaders.

The lesson for all IT organizations private or public is this: properly manage your smartphones and mobile devices.