Friday, February 6, 2009

Barackberry

Some call them Crackberries, but my best information is that the new moniker will be Barackberry. The debate continues to rage on about whether the President will use his existing Blackberry 8830 or move to the General Dynamics' Sectera Edge, a combination phone-PDA that's been certified by the National Security Agency as being acceptable for Top Secret voice communications and Secret e-mail and Web sites.

Here are a few summary articles about the great Blackberry in the Whitehouse debate

The Atlantic notes the NSA has added additional encryption features to the existing Blackberry platform.

ZdNet describes the Sectera Edge in detail.

Engadget summarizes the debate. Most amusing are the hundreds of comments.

The gist of the debate are the an questions: Is a Blackberry

*good enough for TOP SECRET voice communications
*a risk to national security because the RIM data centers are operated by a foreign corporation (Canada)
*banned in secure facilities because it contains a camera
*a risk to personal security because it has built in geolocation features such as those I use
*a risky application platform that could be used to download applications which compromise secret information about presidential movements
*might be hacked by foreign governments who receive his messages or send him false information in a crisis

My experience is that a Blackberry was designed for secure business communications with end to end encryption from device to corporate data center.

To be honest, I'd rather have a secure mainstream business device that is tested by millions of people every day and constantly improved than a brick-sized smart phone that looks like something Maxwell Smart would carry and is used by a very small number of people who are less likely to discover its flaws.

Thus, my cool technology of the week goes to the Barackberry 8830 with added NSA encryption!

4 comments:

Joseph Sucher, MD FACS said...

Interesting.

You post contains multiple arguments against the president's use of a blackberry. However, you then cite only one pro for the blackberry.

The problem with your pro argument is that "millions of people every day..." use the phone and it is "constantly improved" holds no water. Windows is used by millions everyday and constantly improved, however this is not the idealized secure system. If you want a secure system, you go with something that is built specifically to be secure. Blackberry's main mission is to be used by millions of people. To do that, there is always some trade-off in security.

In your last paragraph you state that you would rather use a "secure mainstream device...". So would I. But I don't need my president using it.

Finally you say the Sectera Edge "looks like something Maxwell Smart would carry and is used by a very small number of people who are less likely to discover its flaws." Does this mean you are pro or con for the president's use of the blackberry? I can't tell.

I think you've presented every reason for him not to use it. I vote for him to stick with the Sectera.

Overall, this is the best post that I've read on this subject. It is filled with a lot of good information in a very concise fashion.

Thank you,

JFS

Brian Ahier said...

By Dr. Sucher's argument we had better make sure that CIA, NSA and all our military computers don't run Windows!
I'm sorry , but it is time for the federal government to get up to speed. If they can't handle keeping the President's communications secure on a mobile device, then we are in even more trouble than I thought...

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