It’s no secret that we love Near Field Communication (NFC). What’s exciting at this point is watching some of the use cases come to fruition, and today in particular, the ability to replace security access badges with BlackBerry® smartphones. NFC is an innovative technology with many stakeholders and interested parties including enterprise customers, end users, financial institutions, carriers, and of course smartphone manufacturers. BlackBerry smartphones have been leading the way in mobile payments for some time, becoming the first smartphones to be certified by MasterCard® and Visa® for NFC-based payments, and now we’re first to be available as an access badge replacement solution. “RIM has proven to be a leader in NFC technology, and in bringing NFC solutions to market – we spearheaded the efforts in mobile payments. Now we are taking NFC beyond payments into the enterprise sector and partnering with HID Global®, an industry leader in physical access solutions” says Geoff MacGillivray, RIM Sr. Product Manager for NFC.
Late last week HID Global announced the availability of Secure Identity Services™, a comprehensive suite of web-based services for managing physical access credentials (read the HID press release for more info). Secure Identity Services is the enterprise’s first all-in-one web-based solution for credential provisioning and management. The platform provides businesses with the tools to create, use, and manage identities for traditional badges on plastic cards, for tokens, and for digital credentials on NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphones beginning with models on the Verizon Wireless network: the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9930 and the BlackBerry® Curve™ 9370.
We’ve been dedicated to mobilizing and securing solutions to the challenges that organizations face since the launch of BlackBerry in 1999. Concerning physical access, we began with the BlackBerry® Smart Card Reader, which provides secure access to your BlackBerry smartphone and computer, and have now worked closely with HID Global to bring this expertise to physical access credentials.
What this means for you
Physical access to a building is a key element to the security posture of an organization; it’s important that the platform can be trusted implicitly. Encryption of data, security certifications, and VPN technology all contribute to the security of this solution on BlackBerry smartphones. “With our heritage in protecting our customers’ mobile assets, we already understand the security challenges at play here. It was a natural progression to bring physical access control to our mobile devices” says Michael K. Brown, Vice President of Security Product Management & Research at RIM®.
(As of February 2015, BlackBerry holds 70+ security certifications and approvals from governments.)
As an end user, you may soon be able to turn in that badge once and for all, centralizing your security access to your smartphone. For enterprise customers the centralized web-based management tool will provide a solution for badge replacement, employee turnover, tracking, and more.
This is a significant value-add to existing NFC-enabled BlackBerry smartphone deployments (including employees who bring their own BlackBerry devices to work). Alongside enterprise mobility management solutions, unified communication and collaboration, and the secure BlackBerry infrastructure, a solution from HID that allows you to replace your physical access badges is icing on the cake.
How does it work?
I asked our NFC product team this very question as soon as I heard the news. Access credentials are stored on an embedded secure element within a BlackBerry smartphone – and an HID Global app installed on the devices is able to call up this information and then utilize BlackBerry Trusted Service Manager to create a VPN connection to HID’s servers, allowing for remote management of this secure area and the credentials within.
A physical badge represents an additional set of credentials for your business to manage. When you integrate this with a BlackBerry smartphone, you bring it into the fold of device management that is already underway with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server. It’s an extension of your management and security capabilities to include these access credentials.
What does the future hold?
BlackBerry® 10 is an upcoming mobile computing platform that we’re excited to launch in Q1 of 2013. An important concept for enterprises within the idea of a platform like this is having the ability to manage functions, mobile devices, and access from a central location. Using BlackBerry smartphones for secure physical access is one example of what a unified platform can hold.
Does your business use security access badges? What would be the benefits of integrating this technology with your BlackBerry smartphone? Share in the comments below.