[ISN] Obama can't have a BlackBerry. Should your CEO?

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_private>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2008 04:19:23 -0600 (CST)

By Ephraim Schwartz
December 09, 2008 

The press has been all over President-Elect Barack Obama's addiction to 
his BlackBerry and the possibility that he might have to give it up for 
reasons of national security. But no one in the media seems to be asking 
the most logical follow-up question: Is the cybertechnology that can 
compromise the future chief executive's BlackBerry also a threat to 
mobile devices being used every day by thousands of senior executives in 
corporate America?

One security expert, Ron Cochoran, president of RER Technology, answers 
that question quite succinctly: "If the president can't use it for 
security reasons, then there's obviously something wrong with the 
security system."

The prohibition against BlackBerrys in the White House actually started 
with President George W. Bush's administration. "We made a judgment call 
prior to September 11, 2001, that people in the White House could not 
use a BlackBerry," recalls Joe Hagin, who served as deputy chief of 
staff for operations for seven years and is now the CEO of Jet Support 
Services, a jet-leasing company.

Ironically, the Bush White House suspended that policy for some staffers 
after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "On September 11, we had 
tremendous communications challenges, while people on the Hill 
[Congress] had communications [through their mobile devices]. I made the 
decision that we couldn't operate without them. We bought 200, then 400, 
and finally about 600. They are common around the executive branch, and 
more than just BlackBerrys."

But users of the White House mobile devices are restricted in what they 
can do, to reduce the chance of cyberespionage: GPS is disabled, no one 
is permitted to transmit classified data over an unsecured device, and 
mobile devices cannot be used overseas where the local networks are 
often vulnerable, Hagin says. As Hagin knows firsthand, there are many 
highly sophisticated cyberespionage tools available on the cheap and 
sold online that could compromise a government or a corporation.


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Received on Wed Dec 10 2008 - 02:19:23 PST

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