Will Obama Ditch His BlackBerry?


We've heard quite a bit about President-Elect Barack Obama's lovefest with his BlackBerry, but he's acknowledging the risk it poses for a sitting president.

"I'm still clinging to my BlackBerry," he said Wednesday. "They're going to pry it out of my hands."

I feel for him. Really, I do. But the various risks posed by mobility might be too much for government IT managers to handle. (After all, the availability of White House e-mails caused quite a storm during the Bush 43 years.)

The government has always been on the forefront of super-cool encryption advances, so who knows, maybe the techies will come up with some way for him to hang on to his prized possession. But something tells me it's too much of a vulnerability.

Mobility issues are among the many challenges Obama's yet-to-be-named national CTO will have to tackle. One of the first thing that person might have to do on his way in, though, is to tell Obama to hand over the device.

And as the threat of data loss continues to loom large with corporate IT security pros, I wonder if Obama ditching his BlackBerry will lead them to worry more about their business execs toting around smartphones.

What do you think? Are BlackBerries, iPhones and other devices a threat to the enterprise? What is your organization doing to protect yourself?

For more on Obama's technology prowess, check out Ed Cone's package on IT in the political ground game.


16 Comments for "Will Obama Ditch His BlackBerry?"

  • Colonel E January 13, 2009 8:58 am

    The president's communications (all e-comm) must be encrypted both at the network layer and the data layer. No devices deliver this level of security today, and so the president's communications are clearly insecure if using any existing smartphone. The government needs to host its own email server with customized security layers built in and eliminate all e-comm traffic from being routed through non-government systems. Only this approach is secure enough for "A"-level government communications. Col. E

  • Hal Hanson January 12, 2009 10:49 am

    How about choosing an option that will cost the U.S. taxpayers a fraction of the cost of the above options and allow for certain security? I am of course suggesting they start with an open-source phone such as the Android or the Open Moko and customize it using code and techniques only a few would know, thereby allowing the president to have a secure device instead of something weak like a Windows Mobile device.

  • C Patton January 12, 2009 10:29 am

    I have to agree with most of the posters here. Having supported BlackBerrys and other mobile devices for over 5 years, the encryption technology has become pretty sophisticated. My only question is, where is Blackberry or Microsoft's comments on this? I mean they are the ones, after all, that are knocking on the doors of enterprises across the country touting just how great their security is on these devices. I mean, if it is not good enough for the President, what are CEOs and CIOs around the country going to think of those of us that have been begging them for the upgrades to improve security, only to get the impression that it just isn´┐Ż™t secure enough?

  • Michael Massey January 12, 2009 9:56 am

    We must remember no matter how well you may think your data is secure, someone will come along who is better than you and access what you don't want them to! So we take the best practices approach to secure and encrypt the data so that above-average individuals are kept out. I say he should keep his BlackBerry and follow best practices such as changing his password on a regular basis, having an IT staff that sets the right policies to secure the data upon transmission, Use certificates to encrypt and decrypt data, and be able to remotely wipe his device upon a suspected compromise of any secure data.

  • paul fasel January 12, 2009 8:39 am

    As I write this on my Blackberry I would say that the president should have access to a Blackberry or some other device, after the NSA or some other agency has figured out some fancy encryption-password schema. Then the government can sell the patent to the private sector for 10 cents on the dollar. In the meantime it will create a few jobs and gobs of profit for some lucky company.

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