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Do you need Obama-level BlackBerry security?


Barack Obama

Roy Bragg of the San Antonio Express-News has written an article investigating the security surrounding President Obama’s BarackBerry and how that is juxtaposed against the needs of the common BlackBerry user. Unfortunately, Mr. Bragg was unable to interview any BlackBerry experts, so I had to pinch hit. My take on the matter is that one should be more worried about losing their BlackBerry than having it’s transmissions swiped over the air:

The biggest threat, however, is physical — a lost or abandoned handset can be opened and its contents divulged.

Most handsets have built-in password protection, and Microsoft Office documents can also be created with password protection. Older e-mails and documents should also be deleted at regular intervals rather than being archived on the device.

And to protect the device even more, it’s a good practice to keep sensitive data on a remote computer, accessible only while the phone is logged onto the secure network. Blackberry users can buy software such as SmrtGuard, which can back up data, shred sensitive data, and can be tracked or shut down via GPS if it’s stolen.

It’s a well-written piece and poses an interesting question: are you more concerned about losing your BlackBerry or having it ‘hacked’?

|via mySA|

Verizon sells 1 million BlackBerry Storms


Verizon has done an amazing job of selling the BlackBerry Storm with over 1 million units sold between the November 21st launch and the end of January. This should be an example of how an effective Internet marketing hype campaign can really help boost sales when a device launches. During the days before the Storm, we were privy to countless “leaks” which really helped remind everyone that a cool device was on its way so save your pennies. Perhaps there were other factors at work here too.



Oh snap! VeriSign buys Certicom for C$92 million


What a bad week for RIM. First, they’re forced to withdraw their hostile takeover bid of Certicom due to a Superior Court Order. Then, news breaks that RIM’s co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie may be dinged for up to C$100 million for a backdating scandal (it looks like Balsillie may also have to step down from the Board of Directors). To close out the week, RIM has awoken today to learn that Internet security provider VeriSign has agreed to purchase Certicom for C$2.10 a share, roughly C$92 million total. VeriSign’s offer trumps RIM’s C$1.50 a share offer – I guess Certicom was serious when they said RIM had undervalued them.

Certicom board chairman Jeffrey Chisholm said “The special committee and the board conducted a thorough process on behalf of Certicom shareholders resulting in a significant increase in value for the company and its owners. We believe this transaction also represents a very promising opportunity for our customers and employees.”

Honestly, RIM, just go back to bed. Take a waiver on the day, have a fun weekend, and come back Monday pretending this week never happened. Thanks to my boy M-Dawg for the tip!

Read full Certicom Press Release

How much will Certicom failure hurt RIM?


RIM logo While we have closely covered the back and forth between RIM and Canadian security specialist Certicom, we’ve never really taken the time to discuss why exactly RIM put forth the hostile bid after months of courting. Thankfully, James Rogers of TheStreet.com has done the work for us in a recent article:

Certicom develops a technology called Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC), which is used to secure data on a range of devices, including smartphones. The National Security Agency uses the same technique, and Certicom licenses its technology to a range of companies, including IBM, General Dynamics, Motorola and RIM.

Certicom is also openly canvassing other suitors, which could increase the pressure on RIM. Last month, for example, Certicom granted a number of un-named parties access to its ‘data room’ in an attempt to drive up its valuation. “The information provided in the data room is intended to facilitate offers reflecting the fair value of Certicom from interested parties,” it said, in a statement.

So in effect, by failing to takeover Certicom, RIM has lost out in three different ways: saving money by eliminating the ECC licensing fees, making money from licensing the technology to competitors, and extending its competitive advantage on security. The question becomes how much this failure has hurt RIM in the long run. Post a comment and let us know what you think.

|via TheStreet|


Fido launching BIS BlackBerry service February 4th?


Good friend Ronen over at BerryReview is reporting that Fido will be launching its much rumored BlackBerry service on February 4th. Apparently Fido will offer only BIS and no BES service, with their first BlackBerry being the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. Here’s the rumored price points:

BlackBerry Pearl 8100 Pricing

    * $400 MTM / No Contract
    * $350 on a 2 Year
    * $25 on a 3 year w/ Voice + Data (no minimum monthly total cost required).

Fido BIS Data Plans

    * $15 – Unlimited Personal Email + IM (BBM, WM, Yahoo, AIM etc…).
    * $25 – 500MB BIS Data
    * $30 – 1GB BIS Data
    * $60 – 3GB BIS Data

Two more important items of note: BlackBerry data will be available to Fido customers without contract and tethering will be allowed. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers and demographic Fido will attract with their offering. I’m thinking university students that want a cheap BlackBerry Pearl but no contract.


RIM withdraws Certicom hostile takeover bid


RIM logoWhen I posted yesterday that it seemed like RIM was nearing a point in their pursuit of Certicom where they’d have to cut their loses and quit, I didn’t realize they were standing on it (maybe I know more about hostile takeovers than I previously thought).

After mulling over options to appeal Monday’s Ontario Superior Court order granting Certicom’s request for an injunction, RIM in the end decided to withdraw their CDN $66 million hostile takeover bid, saying the ruling had left them no option.

Monday’s Ontario Superior Court order granting Certicom’s request for an injunction meant the conditions of the offer made in December could no longer be met, RIM said in a statement.

While this is obviously a fairly public black eye for RIM, I wonder if they’re better off in the long run failing to acquire Certicom. Whatever value the company has in technology or personnel, it would have been a logistical nightmare trying to integrate a company that had fought tooth and nail to remain independent.

|via Reuters|