Blackberry outage reveals government vulnerability

Blackberry outage reveals government vulnerability
Blackberry outage reveals government vulnerability 

By John Rendleman

As the first major disruption of its kind, the outage Tuesday night of 
e-mail services on Blackberry mobile devices showed the critical role 
the devices have assumed among government users. Beginning Tuesday 
evening, the outage blocked or caused sporadic delivery of data messages 
to Blackberry users in North America until early Wednesday morning, 
although it did not disrupt Blackberry users voice services.

The outage showed that government users are as dependent on mobile 
e-mail as users in the Fortune 500, said Randall De Lorenzo, vice 
president of mobile strategy at ProfitLine, a telecom expense management 
firm in San Diego. The devices have become so common in the public 
sector that a single federal agency can account for as many as tens of 
thousands of Blackberry users, De Lorenzo said.

As a measure of the penetration of mobile e-mail among large 
organizations, 81 percent of the large enterprise IT and telecom staff 
that responded to a ProfitLine poll said the outage caused noticeable 
disruptions in their operations, while 44.5 percent of respondents said 
it resulted in moderate to substantial drops in productivity, according 
to the firm. Among respondents, only 18.2 percent said the outage 
resulted in no harm to operations, ProfitLine said.

The outage will require Blackberrys parent firm, Research In Motion of 
Ontario, Canada, to reassure its millions of users that disruptions will 
not reoccur, even though the Blackberry messaging network had been free 
of failures prior to the outage this week, ProfitLines De Lorenzo said.

RIM is still trying to determine what caused the outage, but in the wake 
of the disruption is closely monitoring its systems to ensure normal 
service levels, the company said in a statement.

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