Oct 182012
 

Whoops! BlackBerry rep shows off secret phone

Mexican site Hola Telcel posts a video with a BlackBerry rep demoing the company’s L-Series phone — a device that is supposed to be a secret.

 

C/NET News
by Shara Tibken
October 12, 2012

A BlackBerry rep shows off the company’s new L-Series phone.
(Credit: Hola Telcel )

 

Someone forgot to tell a BlackBerry rep in Mexico that the company’s newest L-Series phone is supposed to be a secret.

The rep demoed the phone to Mexican site Hola Telcel, which posted a video online. During the clip (below), the rep shows off features of the new BlackBerry 10 operating system like the ability to virtually “rewind” a photo taken with the device to settle on an expression you most prefer.

The video isn’t the first leak about the device, with photos and video showing up last month. RIM is counting on the new devices to help it better compete against Apple and the Android handset vendors, particularly Samsung. The company hasn’t provided many specifics about the device thus far, but the L-Series is expected to hit stores early next year.

Here’s the video from Hola Telcel (requires Vimeo login ):

** (NOTE: Unfortunately the video was removed… Hmmm!)

 

Related stories:

 

Direct Link:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57531297-94/whoops-blackberry-rep-shows-off-secret-phone/

Oct 172012
 

The BlackBerry as Black Sheep

Quick Hide the BlackBerry, It’s Too Uncool

 

The New York Times
by Nicole Perlroth
October 15, 2012

 

Rachel Crosby speaks about her BlackBerry phone the way someone might speak of an embarrassing relative.

“I’m ashamed of it,” said Ms. Crosby, a Los Angeles sales representative who said she had stopped pulling out her BlackBerry at cocktail parties and conferences. In meetings, she says she hides her BlackBerry beneath her iPad for fear clients will see it and judge her.

The BlackBerry was once proudly carried by the high-powered and the elite, but those who still hold one today say the device has become a magnet for mockery and derision from those with iPhones and the latest Android phones. Research in Motion may still be successful selling BlackBerrys in countries like India and Indonesia, but in the United States the company is clinging to less than 5 percent of the smartphone market — down from a dominating 50 percent just three years ago. The company’s future all depends on a much-delayed new phone coming next year; meanwhile RIM recorded a net loss of $753 million in the first half of the year compared with a profit of more than $1 billion a year earlier.

Read the full article at… Direct Link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/technology/blackberry-becomes-a-source-of-shame-for-users.html?_r=0

Aug 232012
 

Change In RIM Technology Signals Beginning Of End

 

INFORMATION WEEK
By Chris Spera (BYTE)
August 22, 2012

 

 

 

Grab the opera glasses, the fat lady is singing. BGR reports that Blackberry 10 (BB10) devices won’t work with current Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) servers. Stick BES with a fork, kids, because if this is accurate, RIM is done. The next version of BES, 5.0.4, is a maintenance update, and after that, RIM is closing the books on BES–and the Blackberry way of life.


Why is it over? RIM can’t make QNX work with BES features and security functions. That means all of the new devices RIM has planned to introduce with the release of BB10 can’t be used with any current BES installation. And that means that the mobile device management software that provides healthcare companies, security firms, and the U.S. government with secure push email services has reached end of life. RIM isn’t going to update the software after version 5.0.4.

 

What’s worse is that current Java-based Blackberry devices won’t work with the new version of BES. Enterprises that plan on running both BB10 and BB7 devices together will have to run both BES 5.0.4 and BES NG for next generation. BES NG also doesn’t support email sync, calendar sync, or contact sync. Unfortunately, BES NG appears to be really nothing more than a glorified VPN tunnel from the device to the server, which syncs directly with Exchange, Gmail, and, I would suspect, any POP-compatible mail server.

 

Did I mention that BES NG doesn’t support push? Currently, mail is pulled off the mail server. All of the heavy lifting for the sync? It’s done on the device end of the equation, which has me really wondering who would want to license the software in the first place.

 

The BGR article doesn’t mention anything about the BES NG MDM console. I have no idea if or how the new MDM will manage devices on the domain, or whether it will provide secure remote wipe, or any kind of device location services. One can hope, but if BES NG really is nothing more than a glorified VPN tunnel, this represents a huge reduction in functionality. At this point, RIM is taking the one thing that distinguishes it from the rest of the smartphone market–that users find of value and that might have saved RIM’s bacon–and appears to be leaving it behind.

 

RIM issued a statement refuting most of the BGR report. But given the challenges RIM has experienced recently–the layoffs it has announced and executed, the talent it has undoubtedly lost both voluntarily and involuntarily, the technology issues it ran into with its delayed Playbook native PIM apps and the delayed release of BB10–it’s clear RIM is having issues with technology and platform updates. And given that RIM CEO Thorsten Heins seems willing to give ground in order to appear to be moving the company toward a technology and platform release in a quickly closing window of opportunity, the changes BGR outlines make sense.

 

The latest news feels like the other shoe has dropped. If it’s wrong, I’d love to hear from RIM how BES NG works with BB7 devices, and how it provides the same secure push mail, calendar, and contact sync services we’ve enjoyed for the last 10 years.

 

But if it’s right, this truly is the beginning of the end for RIM. Your thoughts? Please leave a comment below.

 

Direct Link:  http://www.informationweek.com/byte/news/personal-tech/smart-phones/240006022

 

Jan 022012
 

Android vs iOS vs BlackBerry: Which is the most secure holiday gift?

 

Which smartphone and tablet OS provides the best security?

Steve Hunt and the Neohapsis team provide a guide for holiday gift-givers (or any gadget lover).

By Steve Hunt and Neohapsis
December 14, 2011 

CSO

As the holiday season approaches, smartphones and tablets are some of the most in-demand items for anyone with even a hint of gadget love in their DNA. Coverage of these exciting new tools is full of hype about new features (SIRI) and also new fears (Carrier IQ). With the sheer volume of marketing and fear being thrown around—eclipsing even the number of holiday songs on the radio—it can be hard for even well-informed users to discern meaning from marketing when it comes to security on mobile devices.

 

[Also see 5 questions to ask about tablet security | Creating a smart mobile device security policy]

 

It’s a bit like gifting a car: The right choice can greatly improve the recipient’s life, while a bad choice could leave them with problems for years to come. This guide is to help you with the security side of the decision, to enable you to take it into account and make the right choices for that special someone (or special self!)

Neohapsis Labs (an independent security think tank based in Chicago) has looked into the general security issues and distilled them down to this short guide (a more detailed report will be released early next year). While there are many available choices of device, the main security decision is what platform to get. There are some main contenders at present (iOS, Android, Blackberry) and a few aspiring players (e.g. Windows Phone, Meego, WebOS, Bada). We are not covering Symbian due to Nokia’s recent decision to move to windows phone 7 in 2012. We will focus on the differences between the platforms and not go into any cross-platform issues such as widespread use of mobile analytics packages to track users for advertising purposes.

 

Android

Google’s Android operating system is the most widely deployed platform on tablets and smartphones at present, with a large number of vendors providing their own customized versions. Integrating smoothly with many Google services, Android is rapidly evolving with the latest version (the very well reviewed Ice Cream Sandwich) offering a slew of new features.

Unfortunately, when it comes to security, Android still has a long way to go. The large delay in releasing fixes for security issues is problematic as it requires a different release for each carrier, manufacturer and model. As a result, many Android devices are stuck using old and insecure versions of the operating system.

When it comes to applications, the primary source of applications is the Android Market, which contains tens of thousands of applications, most of them free. These applications are uploaded by developers and go through no review before being published, allowing fast turnaround, but leaving the door open for malicious apps to linger until Google hits the remote kill switch to remove them from devices (as has happened numerous times). Alternatively, curated markets such as the Amazon Appstore show promise for preventing malicious apps getting in—however they also have drawn complaints for the slow rollout of application updates.

Because it uses a very flexible model for applications, Android apps can do things that cannot be done on the other platforms. A user is notified what an application will be allowed to do at install time, and can choose to install it or not. Once installed, third party apps can (if authorized at install time) read and send messages, make and receive calls, access the internet and turn the microphone or camera on and off.

Because users are not very good at either reading or understanding the implications of these permissions, Android applications have been caught sending and receiving premium rate calls and messages, recording users keystrokes or sounds, tracking user locations, or even containing botnet-style malware as might be found on a desktop machine. There are quite a few third party solutions available that purport to secure your device, but their effectiveness is in many cases under question.

The flexibility of Android makes it a great choice for a highly capable user, but it can require quite a bit of knowledge to keep secure in the long run—often this will require that users root the device and install their own custom updates directly if the carrier does not provide them. Clearly not for the technical novice!

 

Blackberry

While Android is taking the biggest bite out of the consumer market, Blackberry has been very much the jewel of the business world. With its users being likened to drug addicts for their dependence upon the device, RIM’s Blackbery devices have earned the designation Crackberry. Even President Obama couldn’t part with his device, reportedly much to the irritation of the Secret Service and delight of Research in Motion.

Security and control are some of the main selling points of Blackberry, with the ability to completely encrypt data, tightly control what is done with the device, restrict what individual applications can and cannot do, require tunneling of any and all internet traffic through the company’s servers, control apps and much more. The downside is that this control comes at a cost, and the ease of management to keep your device secure can be time consuming for a non-enterprise user.

 

[Also read Al Sacco's Mobile predictions for 2012: Security, payments, Windows phone and more on cio.com]

 

Blackberry App World, the source for third party applications, offers a degree of review over all submissions. However, source code is not reviewed by RIM, and only so much can be understood of application behavior. While Blackberry hasn’t been targeted by nearly the same amount of spyware or malware as Android, there have been instances of nefarious applications and spyware-trojaned carrier updates.

The ability to lock down and secure Blackberry devices is definitely a plus, but because much of it was designed with enterprises in mind it can get a bit complex for a standard user unless they are careful. The release of more consumer oriented devices based upon Blackberry 10 shows promise, but as it is unreleased at present, this one should stay on hold for individual users for now.

 

IOS (iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch)

In a market where the market leader is represented by a green robot, and the trailer (Blackberry) is likened to a notoriously addictive drug, the company with second-place market share has a level of customer loyalty and satisfaction often described as a cult. (All of which gives you some idea about how seriously people take these devices!) We are, of course, talking about Apple’s iOS, the platform where it seems every new addition will sell more than the predecessor no matter what they do.

iOS is a slower-moving and far more tightly controlled platform than Android, with features designed to give a consistent, fluid, and controlled experience. As a result, the platform is great for doing things within Apple’s designs, but beyond that it is by design inflexible. Because of the level of control Apple exerts over iOS, users cannot patch vulnerabilities until Apple releases an update – which in sometimes takes months and in many cases older devices are not compatible with the updates and so are never patched.

 

[See a security-approved smartphone!]

 

For applications there is the Apple app store, which Apple can be quite restrictive over. There have been many reported instances of applications being rejected for mysterious/unknown reasons, most famously Google’s voice app in 2009. Because applications are all granted the ability to do everything allowed (with the exceptions of some things such as notifications and reading location) there are no complex permissions for users to keep track of and manage. While there has been at least one instance of a malicious app getting into the App Store, the most notable example was only a researcher’s proof of concept.

Also of note though is the parallel ecosystem surrounding Jailbroken (where users have forcibly removed Apple’s software protections) Apple devices. Jailbreaking gives users the ability to give devices new features, protect themselves from issues which Apple has not yet fixed, and install unapproved (or pirated) applications. At the same time, however, the removal of these protections potentially leaves users more vulnerable from a security perspective, as happened with the ikee worm in 2008.

iOS devices are a good balance when it comes to security, but this does come at a cost of flexibility that more experienced smartphone/tablet users may not like.

 

Windows Phone 7 and Other Aspirants

There are numerous other potential contenders in the smartphone space, most notably Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, but also including the Linux Foundation’s Meego and Samsung’s Bada. Symbian (formerly pushed by Nokia) and WebOS (formerly from HP) may in future rise or reappear as contenders, but at this stage they have both been dropped by their main proponents and open-sourced and so we will wait and see.

The other platforms all have their own pluses and minuses when it comes to security, and they seem to have learned from the experiences of the big players. However, they also all have much smaller market shares so we will not discuss them here. In particular we will be keeping a close eye on Windows Phone 7 as the relationship between Microsoft (big software) and Nokia (big hardware) may provide some interesting results for enterprise consideration.

Conclusions

security comparison of android, iOS, blackberry

 

So, which platform should you buy from a security standpoint? For most users the answer will be iOS, but for the technically experienced Android can work if they are careful. However, if a user is willing to jailbreak they can get many of Android’s benefits anyway. Blackberry may be a good choice from a security standpoint, but generally those who want a consumer device will prefer the others for non-security reasons. Windows Phone and the other platforms may be good in future, but at present there probably has not been enough exposure to make this risk a good long term bet, especially after what happened to the touchpad.

 

In short, our recommendation for each type of phone user:

Non-technical person: iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch)

Techie: iOS/Android

Business user: Blackberry / iOS (but check what the company standard is first)

 

Note: Others have reached similar conclusions on these points; for instance see Symantec

 

Security industry veteran Steve Hunt is CTO of Neohapsis Labs.

Read more about wireless/mobile security in CSOonline’s Wireless/Mobile Security section.

 

 

Direct Link:  http://www.csoonline.com/article/696493/android-vs-ios-vs-blackberry-which-is-the-most-secure-holiday-gift-?source=ctwartcso

Dec 192011
 

 

U.S. Backs Apple In Patent Ruling That Hits Google
The New York Times
By NICK WINGFIELD
December 19, 2011

A federal agency ruled on Monday that a set of important features commonly found in smartphones are protected by an Apple patent, a decision that could force changes in how Google’s Android phones function.

The ruling, by the United States International Trade Commission, is one of the most significant so far in a growing array of closely watched patent battles being waged around the globe by nearly all of the major players in the mobile industry. These fights reflect the heated competition among the companies, especially as Android phones gain market share.

At the heart of the disputes are the kind of small but convenient features that would cause many people to complain if they were not in their smartphones. For example, the case decided Monday involves the technology that lets you tap your finger once on the touch screen to call a phone number that is written inside an e-mail or text message. It also involves the technology that allows you to schedule a calendar appointment, again with a single tap of the finger, for a date mentioned in an e-mail.

Read the full article at… Direct Link:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/technology/apple-wins-partial-victory-on-patent-claim-over-android-features.html?pagewanted=1&hp