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iPad Used To Govern Norway -- But What About Security?
iPad Used To Govern Norway -- But What About Security?

By Jennifer LeClaire
April 16, 2010 3:09PM

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Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg used his brand-new Apple iPad to govern from a New York airport. But Stoltenberg may not have been aware of the security risks of not using his hardened government phone. While Apple got some free iPad publicity, Stoltenberg's endorsement also carried the risk of Apple being blamed for a security breach.

Norway's prime minister is using the iPad to remotely govern his nation. According to a report by The Associated Press, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg started using his brand-new iPad while stuck at a New York airport on Thursday. His flight was canceled due to a volcanic ash cloud in Iceland.

"When we were in the U.S., it was one of several tools that he used to keep in touch with the office back in Norway, to do his work," Trude Maaseide, a spokesperson for the prime minister, told the AP. Stoltenberg was in town for President Barack Obama's nuclear summit.

Running the iGovernment

Photos of Stoltenberg reading content on his iPad at Kennedy Airport during the delay are circulating the Internet. Many are discussing the prime minister's move away from a laptop, netbook or even a smartphone to keep up with e-mail and other tasks while stranded. But some analysts are saying what appears to be a profitable publicity win for Apple could backfire on the iPad maker.

Although it's not clear what types of tasks Stoltenberg was conducting on the iPad, it's likely that he was sending e-mails to his staff back in Norway. The iPad would also allow him to watch television shows and movies, listen to music, or just pass the time while waiting for the next flight home.

"It's interesting. Here you have a brand-new technology and a head of state actually using the technology to manage the country," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "It either says an awful lot about the device or an awful lot about what he needs to do to manage the country."

A Risky Move

What does a government official's use of the iPad say about the security aspects of the device? As Enderle sees it, one of two things: It either gives a nod to the security of the iPad and the network or makes a fairly severe comment, which he thinks is more likely, about the official's knowledge of the device and the network. Since the iPad is a consumer device, he noted, it doesn't offer anywhere near the heavy encryption that a government device does.

"Remember, even a Research In Motion BlackBerry, which is relatively secure in the smartphone space, wasn't enough for Barack Obama. Stoltenberg had to get a specialized phone for government work, a very expensive hardened phone," Enderle said. "So this may have more to do with the lack of knowledge of the risk that individual is taking than it does with the security of the device."

Finally, there's the question of more free publicity for the iPad. But analysts aren't so sure Apple is doing cartwheels over this story because it carries a significant downside for the brand if anything goes wrong.

"If you are Apple, you don't want people doing this because it's so risky. If there is a known breach, it will do far more damage to Apple than this particular stunt will do good. This is one of those things I am not sure Apple is all that happy with," Enderle said. "Stoltenberg is doing something that is incredibly risky. Like anything else, if it backfires on him it's going to reflect poorly on Apple. All Apple can say is that they designed the device to do these things, but it's not going to help Apple much."

Tell Us What You Think



Posted: 2010-04-26 @ 6:48am PT
The article is purely speculative. As a counterpoint, if he is checking his email or getting into the government network on any level, what does that say for the Norwegian government's internal security where you can so easily log in with such a new device?


Posted: 2010-04-25 @ 9:50pm PT
As an add, he used it also to update facebook and twitter during the days traveling, several times a day


Posted: 2010-04-20 @ 6:55am PT
Wow, now that we know what Rob Enderle thinks, how about a comment from the Norwegian PM's office or someone who can comment on whether the iPad can be/is secured. Someone with actually knowledge -- not speculation. Otherwise, yawn.


Posted: 2010-04-20 @ 5:57am PT
He likely used a very secure VPN to connect to mail servers, a Citrix farm, etc. back home.

This article is purely speculative, and unfair to both Apple and the Norwegian PM. A retraction is needed here.


Posted: 2010-04-20 @ 2:05am PT
As soon as I saw the picture of the Norwegian Prime Minister using his new iPad, the thought of lack of security hit me. Am I the only one being concerned about this? Being from Norway myself - I am concerned and a bit embarrassed!

As the article says, I am sure Secret Service would never allow Obama to use an iPad just as it hit the market. He was very attached to his Blackberry before he got into office, and got a highly secure device as a substitute as soon as he was sworn in.

What about the Norwegian Prime Minister? Should he not be concerned over national security? In the picture provided by his office, he is clearly sitting in a airport lounge or in the hotel lobby. His iPad being from the first wave off the production band, his only option to get online is over the local WiFi network. So much for security! Any black hat hacker can force his/her way into any PC or Mac in the matter of minutes. I bet the iPad is no more secure. At least not certified secure - and should not be used by the head of state - any state.


Posted: 2010-04-18 @ 5:00pm PT
Wow, he could be connecting back to a Citrix farm and not really using the iPad as an iPad but just a dumb terminal!


Posted: 2010-04-16 @ 4:38pm PT
So he was using an iPad? BIG DEAL.

This speculative article belongs in a People Mag. For all we know, he was just browsing the web or playing a game. There's no proof that he was actually "governing his country" from this toy.

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