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10/17/2011
01:32 PM
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RIM's Biggest Network Disruption Over: Now What?

Service disruption becoming all too familiar outcome for BlackBerry users

As CNN reported, RIM’s BlackBerry service was finally restored after a recent outage affected millions of users globally.

Despite RIM’s promises to eventually deliver all email and text messages sent during the outage, this tale seems all too familiar.

RIM has experienced service disruptions at least once a year since 2007. During previous outages, the company has blamed process errors or failed to provide an explanation at all. While speculation abounded late in the day Wednesday that RIM was the victim of a hacking attack, it has denied that was the case, explaining that the problem was related to hardware failures in its critical infrastructure.

This latest failure couldn’t have come at a worse time for RIM. The company’s stock is already down nearly 60 percent year-to-date. Plus, customers are increasingly considering RIM’s competitors, like Goggle’s Android phones and Apple’s iPhone.

BlackBerry has long been the go-to choice for employer-issued work phones, but the company should no longer count on this market segment as assured business. Increasingly, employees who use other phones for personal use are urging their employers to enable them to connect to corporate networks.

There are, of course, myriad security risks that come with connecting to a corporate network from a personal phone. But as Gartner states in its latest Magic Quadrant for Mobile Data Protection report, a variety of solutions are available to protect against these security threats.

Although BlackBerry might be the most mature and secure platform today, Apple’s release this week of iOS 5 is beginning to present a strong challenge. With every release Apple has been improving both the security and ability to control its devices, as well as increasing its compatibility with enterprise environments.

As security controls and ease of network connectivity for employee-owned mobile devices continue to evolve, RIM will need to fight harder to maintain its position as the enterprise smartphone leader.

Chester Wisniewski is a senior security adviser at Sophos Canada

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