By Grant Gross
March 20, 2007
IDG News Service
Wireless security must be the top priority for providers doing business
with the U.S. government, Research In Motion Ltd.'s (RIM's) president
and co-CEO said Tuesday.
Wireless security needs to include several functions, such as firewall
and virus protection for all devices, the ability to log device use,
encryption of data at rest, and enforcement of access controls for
downloads, said Mike Lazaridis, whose company makes the BlackBerry
wireless devices popular with U.S. government users.
"Wireless mobile security is multifaceted," he said, speaking at the
FOSE IT-in-government trade show in Washington, D.C. "I know it looks
complicated, but it is."
Lazaridis used much of his keynote speech to push the security features
of BlackBerry devices, including extensive encryption and the company's
decision not to include cameras on most of its devices. In many
government settings, cameras are not allowed, he said. BlackBerry
devices have gained security certifications in several countries,
including the U.S., U.K., Canada and the Netherlands, and NATO has
authorized them for use with sensitive information, he said.
He also talked about the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader, a Bluetooth
device released in October that works with common-access cards now being
rolled out across the U.S. government. The reader, light enough to be
carried on a lanyard around a user's neck, can control access to
BlackBerry devices or PCs. When the user walks a few meters away with
the card reader, the BlackBerry or PC locks out other users.
When RIM was developing the smart-card reader, it noticed a lot of
people leaving smart cards in readers stationed on desks, he said. Then,
when they walked away, other people had easy access to PCs. The
lanyard-based Bluetooth reader seems to solve that problem, Lazaridis
Government users need to consider security issues when rolling out
wireless services, he added. Being able to manage the devices remotely
is a key issue, he said.
"You don't want to have to go visiting devices every time you want to
change something," he said. "You absolutely want to manage these devices
wirelessly and in groups."
Security remains the top focus at RIM, he said. "There really is no such
thing as good enough when it comes to security," he added. "In security,
when something goes wrong, it's really bad."
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