[ISN] RIM chief: Wireless security must be top priority

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Tue Mar 20 2007 - 21:25:42 PST


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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