BlackBerry held its 2nd annual Security Summit for analysts and journalists today in New York City. The event included a briefing for attendees that was webcast and also live-tweeted from @BlackBerry4Biz using the hashtag #BBSecurity (and became a trending topic on Twitter earlier today), as well as demonstrations of BlackBerry’s broad security platform (see above).
As with last year, the timing was good. In 2014, BlackBerry announced the acquisition of secure voice communications vendor Secusmart a day before the Summit. This year, we announced the purchase of crisis communications provider AtHoc yesterday.
BlackBerry CEO and Executive Chairman John Chen (follow his newish Twitter handle at @JohnChen) kicked off the proceedings. Chen said BlackBerry has invested more than $100 million in the past year to build up its security solutions.
Why? Simply because the demand is there, judging by the slide shown by Chen above, listing some major security breaches in the last 18 months. High-profile breaches haven’t abated, and arguably, are accelerating (even among highly-touted, well-funded startups).
The ongoing breaches show that enterprises, even those operating in regulated industries such as government, financial and healthcare, continue to struggle with security, said Chief Security Officer David Kleidermacher (above).
That’s worrisome as we enter the Internet of Things era. Take emerging ‘smart hospitals’: not only does the proliferation of new types of life-saving medical devices help save lives, it also “creates an incredible surface area for attacks,” said Kleidermacher, who demonstrated such an attack later.
To combat these threats, Kleidermacher outlined five ways that BlackBerry’s approach to security is different – and better – than the mainstream:
Not only is BlackBerry security approach distinctive, but our broad end-to-end platform is easier to manage and offers a lower Total Cost of Ownership, Kleidermacher said.
That customer deployed BES12 to manage a multi-OS set of employee mobile devices and BBM Enterprise (formerly known as BBM Protected) for secure messaging, according to Holleran.
Vice-President of Product Management Tim Choi highlighted statistics showing that 50% of a typical company’s business processes are run via files, and 80% of a typical enterprise’s data is stored in files – everything from PowerPoints about company strategy, PDFs with car engine designs, budget and financial forecasting spreadsheets. With solutions such as BlackBerry’s recently-acquired WatchDox, security gets embedded into the files, controlling who can access a file and what they can do with it (i.e. print, copy, paste, etc.).
According to Christoph Erdmann (above), Senior Vice-President of Secusmart Secure Voice, the BlackBerry subsidiary has government customers on 5 different continents today. It is working on getting customers onto a sixth continent, he said. Secusmart earlier this spring introduced a business-oriented version of its encrypted voice communications service.
“We’ve taken the security DNA on a BlackBerry device platform and transferred it a cross-platform, software and hosted solution that can be sold through carriers,” Erdmann said. Vodafone is BlackBerry’s first carrier partner for the service.
AtHoc CEO Guy Miasnik came up next. The decade-old Silicon Valley startup has amassed a large set of customers, mostly U.S. federal government agencies such as the TSA, NASA, USDA, U.S. Army, and more.
According to Miasnik, more than 3 million U.S. federal government personnel are connected via AtHoc’s communications service, which sends alerts to their devices. Though AtHoc is starting to get customers outside of the U.S. such as the Canadian Parliament, Miasnik said the acquisition by BlackBerry will help provide the global reach it lacks today.
“That sealed the deal for me. It simply makes sense,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer Marty Beard talked about how BlackBerry is aiming its security and privacy solutions beyond the mobile arena into the Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine (M2M).
As the forecasts shown by Beard depict, IoT and M2M are huge opportunities.
Well-known industry analyst Bob Egan (above, left) then hosted a panel with three BlackBerry customers (from left): Jason Lamont, Managing Director of IT Enterprise Innovation for ATB Financial, Richard Tam, Vice-President and Chief Administration Officer for Mackenzie Richmond Hospital, and Dr. David Whitehouse, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Digital Health Transformation for UST Global.
Lamont said that ATB was able to centralize 3 mobile security software products onto a single BlackBerry solution, which he says “shrinks the attack points” against hackers and is easier to manage. Watch this video to see more customer testimonials or check out case studies at our blog.
CSO Kleidermacher (right) re-emerged on the stage to oversee a demonstration by BlackBerry security expert Graham Murphy (center) of how to hack into a medical device – an infusion pump that controls what kind of drugs and painkillers are given to patients, and the rate. Altering the rate of drug delivery could hurt a patient but taking down such a machine could be lethal for the patient. But as medical devices become smarter and more connected, they also potentially become a “soft underbelly” for attackers, said Kleidermacher, if they are not secured from the ground up.
New President for Global Sales, Carl Wiese, also made a quick appearance on stage at the Security Summit. Wiese joins from Cisco Systems, where he headed up sales for Cisco’s $4-billion-a-year collaboration unit.
As mentioned earlier, the full video of the webcast of the Summit, along with individual speakers, will be posted later today. Come back to this blog or check out our YouTube or BlackBerry4Biz Twitter channels to see them.