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Obama Wins Fight To Keep His BlackBerry -- But With Enhanced Security

It's official: President Obama gets an ultrasecure BlackBerry, but for limited use
Turns out administration security officials didn't have to pry President Obama's BlackBerry from his hands after all: Obama has been outfitted with an extra-secure BlackBerry, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today.

Word that the new president would be able to keep his beloved BlackBerry, but with heavy encryption, or get a more secure smartphone first came yesterday in a blog posting in The Atlantic. Security experts initially speculated that Obama's BlackBerry wouldn't be a BlackBerry proper, but instead a National Security Agency-approved smartphone device.

But according to Gibbs, who today announced Obama's BlackBerry victory during the first White House press briefing of the administration, Obama got a BlackBerry "through a compromise" in which he will use it for communicating with only senior staff and "a small group of personal friends."

And those lucky few who get to email with the president will be briefed on their access to that email, Gibbs said.

Security experts said whatever smartphone Obama had would use strong encryption protection, according to earlier media reports.

But like any device with Internet access, locking down a BlackBerry is not really possible because Internet-facing connectivity makes it vulnerable to hacking and malware.

Obama has made it clear he wants to keep his ability to communicate with the world outside the White House during his presidency. In a recent CNN interview, he said, "I think we're going to be able to hang on to one of these. I want to be able to have voices, other than the people who are immediately working for me, be able to reach out...and send me a message about what's happening in America."

Gibbs told reporters that at this point, "The presumption is that the email will all be subject to the Presidential Records Act."

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