Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

8/9/2010
01:16 PM
Rob Enderle
Rob Enderle
Commentary
50%
50%

How RIM Could Fail

Of the handset choices that are sold broadly on the market, the BlackBerry platform is the most inherently secure. To appeal to the business market it targets, it had to be better than any other handset or mobile solutions vendor. But with Saudi Arabia blocking the service and other countries expected to follow -- coupled with mistakes on its new flagship Blackberry Torch -- RIM could be on the brink of a Palm-like failure.

Of the handset choices that are sold broadly on the market, the BlackBerry platform is the most inherently secure. To appeal to the business market it targets, it had to be better than any other handset or mobile solutions vendor. But with Saudi Arabia blocking the service and other countries expected to follow -- coupled with mistakes on its new flagship Blackberry Torch -- RIM could be on the brink of a Palm-like failure.BlackBerry phones, when implemented by companies along with the matched server and software solution, can make use of an encrypted data connection. The keys for the encryption are set and managed by the business client and not RIM, providing a level of security currently unmatched by competitors that RIM itself can't, with reasonable effort, penetrate.

Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world dealing with domestic threats are concerned that this encrypted method of communication can be used by criminal organizations to coordinate criminal and specifically anti-government activities. They want RIM to give them a master key so they can easily decrypt the messages.

However, once the RIM security system is modified to allow for a master key, the potential for misuse eliminates much of the benefit to encryption because this master key could be duplicated, stolen, or misused. Short of some kind of quantum technology, which would alert when unauthorized access occurred, the benefits of the RIM security would largely be eliminated.

Removing that benefit would allow third parties to better secure computing platforms like the iPhone and Android, giving them the security advantage along with existing advantages in terms of hardware choice and application depth. This would eliminate much of the existing RIM advantage.

We just witnessed Palm fail by following the simply strategy of building a good device and following it up with claims that it would kill the iPhone, horrid sampling and press support, and an advertising campaign that was expensive and ineffective.

RIM just launched the BlackBerry Torch, a good device, but they failed to get them to any of the technology news programs I work with and I work with a lot of them (who mostly commented on how much better job Apple does). RIM's executive management positioned the phone as an iPhone killer, which it isn't, and their TV advertising (at least in my region) includes potentially offensive stereotypes of Hispanic people and gay people. Using diversity can be very powerful, but using stereotypes can be incredibly foolish.

When you combine the security problems with their execution issues surrounding the Torch, you potentially have a company at the front end of what could be a cascading failure. Companies move on the decisions of their executive management, good and bad, in this instance RIM appears to be drifting into both new and known areas of trouble and that doesn't bode well for them as a vendor -- particularly in government accounts.

-- Rob Enderle is president and founder of Enderle Group. Special to Dark Reading.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 6/3/2020
Data Loss Spikes Under COVID-19 Lockdowns
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  5/28/2020
Abandoned Apps May Pose Security Risk to Mobile Devices
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/29/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-10548
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
rConfig 3.9.4 and previous versions has unauthenticated devices.inc.php SQL injection. Because, by default, nodes' passwords are stored in cleartext, this vulnerability leads to lateral movement, granting an attacker access to monitored network devices.
CVE-2020-10549
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
rConfig 3.9.4 and previous versions has unauthenticated snippets.inc.php SQL injection. Because, by default, nodes' passwords are stored in cleartext, this vulnerability leads to lateral movement, granting an attacker access to monitored network devices.
CVE-2020-10546
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
rConfig 3.9.4 and previous versions has unauthenticated compliancepolicies.inc.php SQL injection. Because, by default, nodes' passwords are stored in cleartext, this vulnerability leads to lateral movement, granting an attacker access to monitored network devices.
CVE-2020-10547
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
rConfig 3.9.4 and previous versions has unauthenticated compliancepolicyelements.inc.php SQL injection. Because, by default, nodes' passwords are stored in cleartext, this vulnerability leads to lateral movement, granting an attacker access to monitored network devices.
CVE-2020-11094
PUBLISHED: 2020-06-04
The October CMS debugbar plugin before version 3.1.0 contains a feature where it will log all requests (and all information pertaining to each request including session data) whenever it is enabled. This presents a problem if the plugin is ever enabled on a system that is open to untrusted users as ...