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BlackBerry Security Summit: BlackBerry Issues Cybersecurity Call to Action

Secusmart, BlackBerry Executives, Security Summit, BBSecurity

Q&A at the BlackBerry Security Summit on Tuesday. From left: BlackBerry Senior VP of Communications, Heidi Davidson, President of Enterprise Services John Sims, Vice-President of Software Foundations, Charles Eagan, QNX President Dan Dodge, and Secusmart Founder and CEO Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle.

Timing is everything.

Executing the right actions at precisely the right moment is vital to the success of any organization. That’s why BlackBerry chose this moment to convene the BlackBerry Security Summit, a gathering of business leaders, visionaries, experts and practitioners in the enterprise mobility industry. BlackBerry also timed the event with several product announcements and a strategic acquisition.

The summit, which attracted roughly 100 reporters and analysts to The Museum of Arts and Design in Midtown Manhattan yesterday, was both a technology showcase and forum for discussing top-of-mind cybersecurity issues and trends. Executives from BlackBerry and several mobile security companies, as well as industry analysts and security experts, shared their perspectives on how government agencies, regulated organizations and enterprises of all sizes can best protect their digital assets and free their companies up to grow and innovate.

Watch the video recap of the BlackBerry Security Summit

Crisis Proportions

“Enterprises require security and there’s another more-defined slice that requires enhanced security in voice, data and identity – and that’s regulated,” said BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen. He identified government agencies, financial services, healthcare organizations and energy companies as primary targets for BlackBerry’s end-to-end security solution.

Chen and other speakers categorized the current threat to all enterprises as reaching crisis proportions.

While high-profile breaches at major retailers have garnered most of the attention in the past year or so, cybersecurity attacks are up across the board, noted BlackBerry chief marketing officer Mark Wilson, with mobile devices becoming an increasingly attractive target of cybercriminals.

Not surprisingly, financial damages associated with digital security breaches are also on the rise. The average total cost of a data breach increased by 15% in the past year, according to the Ponemon Institute.

Heightened Awareness

While speakers at the Security Summit called for urgent action to combat these threats, they also offered assurances that the situation was not beyond control. They cited a growing awareness of cybersecurity issues among business leaders and a new breed of risk-mitigation and productivity solutions available from BlackBerry and its partners as positive counters to the elevated security threat.

A May 2013 survey of American businesses conducted by EisnerAmper revealed that cybersecurity ranked third on a list of risk management concerns among corporate board members. Recent public accounts of high-profile businesses conducting searches for chief information security officers (CISO) provides further evidence that cybersecurity is increasingly being seen as a business issue, rather than an IT one.

The predominant message of the BlackBerry Security Summit, however, was that BlackBerry is 100 percent focused on helping organizations fend off business-crippling and reputation-ruining security threats, providing even the most security conscious organizations with the peace of mind to move forward with the business-transforming benefits of workforce mobilization.

President of Global Enterprise Services John Sims said that BlackBerry’s layered approach to security, which includes device, secure infrastructure and server elements, was unmatched in the industry.

“No one else has that complete picture,” said Sims.

Secusmart Transaction

To amplify that message, BlackBerry unveiled that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Secusmart, a leader in high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, enterprises and telecommunications service providers in Germany and internationally.

Through an existing partnership, the two companies have provided Secusmart-equipped BlackBerry smartphones to a significant number of German government agencies and almost all German government ministries and leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The acquisition reinforces BlackBerry’s enterprise mobility security leadership with the addition of encrypted voice capabilities, said independent analyst, Jack Gold. “If BlackBerry can raise the awareness and get the market, particularly in enterprise and regulated industries, to recognize the need for secure voice and the amount of potential loss, then BlackBerry could win big in the market,” said Gold in a Mobile World Live article.

BlackBerry Guardian

BlackBerry officials also introduced BlackBerry Guardian, a new feature for BlackBerry 10 smartphones that ensures Android mobile apps have been thoroughly scanned for malicious behavior. BlackBerry Guardian combines automated and manual analysis with Trend Micro’s Mobile App Reputation Service to comprehensively vet mobile apps for malware and other issues. Starting with the release of the BlackBerry Passport, BlackBerry Guardian will also automatically check all Android apps that customers install on their BlackBerry smartphones, including apps from the Amazon Appstore and other sources.

BES12: Central Point of Control for the Internet of Things

BlackBerry executives also shared information about the capabilities of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 (BES12), the cloud-capable successor to BES10 scheduled for availability in November. In a discussion on security challenges related to the Internet of Things (IoT), Sims said BES12 would widen the protection perimeter in enterprise networks by supporting a broad range of end points beyond smart devices.

“BES12 provides that central point of control for IT administrators to manage what’s going on in many parts of their networks,” said Sims.

Providing centralized control for user and device identity is another proposed job function of BES12, according to Sims, who described BlackBerry as one of the largest identity management providers in the world, with more than 200,000 user identities managed today.

Long-Term Solution

Many businesses have been in a holding pattern for the past couple of years, applying a thin layer of protection through the adoption of stopgap Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) products. The growing awareness by business leaders of the threat to digital assets and the resulting repercussions is expected to accelerate the adoption of long-term enterprise mobility solutions.

The BlackBerry Security Summit is timed to provide business leaders and IT professions with the knowledge that meeting those long-term goals requires a partner with proven and well-regarded expertise in security. It also requires working with a supplier with unmatched resources, a rich pedigree and a single-minded focus on enterprise mobility.

Just like comedy, skydiving and affairs of the heart, when it comes to meeting enterprise mobility challenges, timing is everything.

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