iOS, third party keyboards, and MDM

20 Dec

This is a bit technical, but I want to put this out into the intrawebs for further thought and comment.

I would very much like to consider getting an iPhone 6plus.  That being said, I find Swype essential when I use a cell phone.

Apple now allows users to select third party keyboards such as Swype.  Great!  Well…

Because I use my phone (and tablet) on the job, my employer has rightfully placed MobileIron, a mobile device management (MDM) piece of software on it to make sure corporate and clients secrets can’t be leaked from it.

After doing some further research (, it appears that there will NEVER be a way that Swype will work on MDM platforms where “Allow opening managed app documents in unmanaged apps” is unchecked.

Swype, as currently deployed, allows for “Full Access” which includes sending EVERYTHING you type on the keyboard to be forwarded to Swype in the cloud.  You can turn this off.  When you are using Swype, you must trust that when you turn this off it doesn’t send data to Swype (accidentally or on purpose).

That being said: what enterprise security administrator is going to allow Swype to see everything a user types, regardless of Swype’s promises? Even if Swype has a heart of gold, it doesn’t mean that Swype might inadvertantly store users’ keystrokes and allow some hacker access to them.

It appears that the ONLY way for Swype to work on an MDM iOS device would be:

1. A new MDM compliant version of Swype to be created that doesn’t allow “Full Access.” Further, this new version would have to also not store ANYTHING TYPED on the iOS device.
2. Each enterprise that uses MDM and manages apps add this new Swype as an allowed managed app.

There is another way around this which would include some really complex new permission code for iOS… but in the end, iOS would need to make certain third party keyboards won’t let anything out of the third party keyboard… be it on the network or even just storing data to a file (which could be harvasted later by another program). I’m sure it could be done, but I doubt Apple would want to go there.

Bummer. No Swype for me, probably no iPhone for me.

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 20, 2014 in Uncategorized


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: