Tuesday, 18 October 2016 07:02

BlackBerry helps keep mobile data private


BlackBerry's WatchDox software is being increasingly used to secure corporate content on BYODs.

A very large proportion of chief executives and chief information security officers in our region are concerned about employees storing confidential or otherwise sensitive content on public cloud services, BlackBerry APAC vice-president Paul Crighton told iTWire.

This is based on his meetings about 100 such executives. Concern might not be quite so high in Australia, as local analyst firm Telsyte's Australian Enterprise Mobility Market Study 2017 found 62% of Australian businesses are worried about risks associated with employees storing sensitive information on cloud storage services.

Organisations feel they have adequate internal controls, but lack visibility and control of data once it is let out. Crighton pointed to the way clothing and footwear companies that have outsourced manufacturing to Asia provide their partners with a "cookbook" describing how the products are to be made. In the wrong hands, that becomes a cookbook for counterfeiting.

Yet there is a realisation that collaboration and sharing are essential for innovation.

The answer, he suggested, is to use BlackBerry's WatchDox software to apply DRM to files from the outset. That way, it doesn't matter what happens to the file as the content is securely encrypted.

"It keeps the onus for doing the right things away from the employee," he said.

The New Zealand Parliamentary Service has recently adopted WatchDox to allow the secure sharing of documents and information on devices owned by staff and members of parliament.

"The sensitive nature of government work means there is a growing need to securely share documents while retaining control of them across Parliament. WatchDox by BlackBerry helped us to solve this issue, as it enables members and staff to securely share DRM-protected documents, while retaining complete control of the content. We believe WatchDox is a valuable contributor to our data loss prevention strategy and from a security point of view, this gives us peace of mind but importantly, allows our team to be super productive," said New Zealand Parliamentary Service chief information officer Michael Middlemiss.

"Members of the New Zealand Parliament and their support staff require secure access to their emails and calendar at all times, as well as sharing sensitive files in a secure mobile environment. With such a range of devices used by our staff, we required an enterprise mobility solution that was easy to deploy and maintain and not impact how staff use their devices. Using Good Work, members and staff like the ability to access delegate calendars to keep their busy schedules synchronised when on the move."

Another recent adopter is not-for-profit Mai-Wel, which provides services to people with a disability. The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme meant Mai-Wel had to capture data in real time when visiting participants.

"Our aim is always to support the largest number of participants possible with our services. For this, we needed to be able to access our Web app securely from any device, so that employees can log their time after each visit on the move, instead of returning to the office," said Mai-Wel manager of information and communications services Eddie Meehan.

"BlackBerry's Good Secure Collaboration Suite from the Good Dynamics Platform will allow us to log our data efficiently and accurately in a secure environment, increasing our productivity and number of visits. This is essential for our business to continue to support the community."

Crighton told iTWire that "Q1 was fantastic for us" and saw BlackBerry's software revenue exceed hardware revenue for the first time. And the second quarter saw software revenue grow by 111% year-on-year, so it wasn't just down to declining hardware revenues.

In September, BlackBerry pulled the plug on its handset business, licensing the manufacturing and distribution of BlackBerry-branded phones to an Indonesian company.

Just two months earlier, BlackBerry executive chairman and chief executive John Chen said "We do have a plan" for the handset business.

"We still have a lot of BlackBerry [phone] customers" in New York and in government agencies, particularly in the US, Canada and Germany. "You can't just walk away from these customers" if you want to sell them software, he observed.

But Chen did warn that BlackBerry would only continue to produce handsets as long as they make money, and said the company was open to licensing its intellectual property to others.

It now sounds as if discussions about such licensing may already have been underway when he spoke.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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