[ISN] BlackBerry prickles Department of Defence spooks
isn at c4i.org
Tue Nov 16 08:34:56 EST 2004
By Rob O'Neill
November 16, 2004
Department of Defence communications spooks are restricting the use of
wireless BlackBerry devices in government over concerns about the
security of confidential and restricted information.
The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), the nation's high-tech
electronic eavesdropper, says the popular devices must not be used to
transmit confidential or secret information or connect to systems that
Agencies may use BlackBerry devices with systems that handle
"unclassified, x-in-confidence (excluding cabinet-in-confidence) and
Telstra, one of several providers of BlackBerry services, insists the
systems are secure.
"They are used by a lot of customers that require high levels of
security in the financial services industry, and even the CIA and the
Pentagon," a Telstra spokesman says.
Paul Osmond, Asia-Pacific regional director of BlackBerry developer
Research In Motion, is "thrilled" the Government has decided the
Department of Defence can use the device, because 18 months ago they
"Their restrictions are fairly common when you look at a first
go-around," Osmond says. "They are similar to those the US defence
forces put out when they first used it."
The DSD will review the guidelines in February when it is expected RIM
and ISPs will seek to have their say.
The hand-held BlackBerry device, which allows access to corporate
email, including attachments, from almost any location, has become the
new must-have corporate accessory in the US and is receiving strong
But the swarm of new mobile computing devices poses security
challenges to government and private organisations. They are keen to
have the functionality but worry about privacy and access.
Other consumer devices have also generated alarm. A British security
firm's survey revealed Apple's iPod, which has large portable storage
capacity and can be plugged into most PCs, is considered a threat.
Sometimes such concerns can seem overblown, as in 1999 when the Furby,
a computerised toy, was banned from US National Security Agency
premises because it could be used as a recorder.
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