BlackBerry Outage – You Say System Upgrade, I Say Achilles Heel… Eric Everson, Founder MyMobiSafe.com
Research In Motion (RIM) is in the hot-seat this week as millions were without their BlackBerry service. RIM offered a public apology for what is the second outage in less than a year and later suggested the outage was due to an issue arising from a system upgrade.
As the Founder of MyMobiSafe, my email has been inundated as people worried about a virus or other malware that could have been responsible for the outage. Though RIM is continuing to investigate their issue, this outage stands as a beacon of vulnerability that stems from the centralized approach that RIM uses for the BlackBerry platform. As users (and hackers alike) have drawn from this instance, the central management approach of RIM puts BlackBerry users at an extreme risk. The official statement from RIM suggested “…a problem with an internal data routing system within the BlackBerry service infrastructure that had been recently upgraded.” This “upgrade” may just stand as a precursor of public opinion “downgrade” that the brand stands to face without a serious reconsideration of their existing network architecture.
As it stands today the centralized network architecture of RIM has become the Achilles heel of the brand. As even the Canadian Press highlights, “The concentration of RIM's BlackBerry service at a single network operation centre in the Ontario city of Waterloo, through which traffic such as e-mails are routed, exacerbates such problems and leaves it open to more crashes.” In an era of affordable SONET broadband infrastructure and POP (Point of Presence) Mirrors one must begin to question the current network model that RIM employs. Though I applaud the BlackBerry platform for the range of third party content, this outage under the existing network design casts significant attention onto the brand with regards to mobile security.
As all providers tout mobile security at the network level providing no credence to the handset level of mobile protections, one must ask how safe is the content being shared via the BlackBerry. If at a network level everything is routed through a bottleneck configuration it likely doesn’t take the Founder of MyMobiSafe.com to point out that there may be some mobile security issues users should consider. So rather than just bash the mobile security vulnerabilities of the BlackBerry and RIM network architecture, I’ll offer up a few suggestions that may help the brand recover into the future… after all nobody wants to see the “CrackBerry” become a thing of once upon a time technology.
How does a company like RIM dust themselves off after a debacle like this that carries the foreshadowing potential of tarnishing the brand into the future? The first thing that needs to happen is a renewed commitment to network infrastructure. The company must take an if/then approach to their backend designs. Additionally, a renewed commitment to mobile security must be made publicly to encompass the network and handset level vulnerabilities. Taking on a mobile security partner is likely a great step in this direction. Additionally the company must continue to operate with foresight into the future of the platform. What is going to carry this device into the future? Why can’t users live without this device in place of another offering in the marketplace?
As a word of recommendation however headlines like “RIMs co-CEO downplays BlackBerry Outage” stand to destroy the future merit of the brand. This outage is nothing to sweep under the rug as the technology savvy consumer (from the CIO to the entry level user) is already beginning to question the integrity of the BlackBerry service. As millions across the world conduct business via their BlackBerry (from Firefighters to Financial Analysts) now is no time to have the integrity of the service called into question. I say take the steps to correct the issues and use this opportunity to carry the brand forward. It may prove to be a critical mistake to dismiss this outage as a number of viable alternatives are competing for the RIM market share of the wireless industry.
Cheers from your friend and mobile security expert, Eric Everson, Founder MyMobiSafe.com