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In short, what does it mean?

NEW YORK -- BlackBerry said Tuesday that it will acquire Secusmart, a German mobile security company. The purchase highlights how BlackBerry is doubling down on the enterprise as well as mobile security.

The two companies have been partners since 2009. The plan is for Secusmart, known recently for its anti-eavesdropping software, to become a core component of BlackBerry's security portfolio and enterprise mobility management pitch.

This company has a very cool little implementation -- it's basically an AES encryption chip (hardware-based) along with an authentication chip built into a standard micro-SD card envelope.  When plugged in you wind up with an authenticated crypto system that is then accessible over the SD interface, allowing encryption of voice.

One of the issues for mobile handsets is that current ARM processors prior to ARMv8 do not support hardware crypto.  Voice traffic requires fairly high performance in order to work reliably, so hardware acceleration is a must.

This also offloads the potential for contamination of the system crypto into the card, compartmentalizing that risk (and, if a problem is found, allowing fixing it without trashing the underlying device!)

I like it, in short.  This makes BlackBerry the only company with a demonstrably secure path forward for not only data communications but voice and SMS, and brings forward the potential for carrier-independent and cross-carrier secure transport in both government and enterprise environments.  

With a bit of work that capability might even be extensible to consumer users as well.

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You didn't have that in your portfolio when it was halted, right?

Sucks to be you, if so.

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When everyone was singing BlackBerry is dead! I said nope.

Not with BB10 out.

Yes, Thor was a disaster, and nowhere was he more of a disaster in refusing to market the privacy and security benefits of his handsets.  He also intentionally crippled the Android player in an attempt to drive development of his own app store -- a terrible mistake.

Chen isn't that dumb and has reversed most of the stupid; 10.3 will have the Amazon app store preloaded.  Google will likely regret playing games with PlayStore, but that's ok -- it's too late at this point, unless they embrace what BlackBerry is and has -- and they won't.  Even better, the Z3 is selling in the emerging markets, is gaining positive reviews from real users and various publications who are coming to a simple conclusion -- for the money it's a damn nice device.

But now the backlash against trying to shorehorn MDM into IOS and Android is here and it's real:

At a well-known investment firm in New York City, something strange is happening: Mobile app performance issues and privacy concerns have sparked a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolt, and now many employees are asking for their corporate BlackBerry back.

"It's a nightmare," says an IT executive speaking on condition of anonymity.

Of course it's a nightmare.  Apple and Android systems are designed to be consumer devices where Apple and Google, respectively, gain information that they can sell for advertising (and perhaps other) purposes.

You don't really think Android is actually "free", do you?

That a price isn't denominated in dollars doesn't make something free.

BlackBerry Balance solves almost all of these problems by allowing a full split-personality, save in one place -- it doesn't support a second SIM so you can attach one for corporate use and a second for the personal side.  It should, but it doesn't.  That's the only restriction.

BlackBerry could fix this by adding one more SIM slot.  Yes, it would require a bit of logic in the phone and space for a second SIM.  But it would mean you'd have two devices in one box, literally, where one side could be under the full control of corporate and the second entirely under your control where corporate IT could not have access to your data -- and vice-versa.  Both partitions could thus be encrypted at your desire (and corporate could require it for their side) and said encryption would prevent the access and use of said data on the personal side by the IT folks.  At worst they could wipe it (if the device was lost or stolen) but not get to it.

I note that from what I've been able to determine on the forensic side (that is, the cops and similar) an encrypted BB10 device is effectively a brick from LEO's perspective at present, with one exception -- if they can manage to get the user's BlackBerry World account password it can be used to decrypt backed up copies made by the PC application.  But to do that they need the backup image off your PC and your BlackBerry World password -- else, no joy.

Hint: Make damn sure you use a really strong password!

The iPhone and Android were simply never designed as a business device.  Not then and not now, and trying to make something into what it is not almost-always turns out poorly.

In other words trying to drive screws with a hammer sort of works......

Sort of.

BlackBerry is not only breathing -- it's rising.

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Uh huh...... watch the birdie.

FedEx Corp. was indicted for delivering prescription pain pills, sedatives, anti-anxiety drugs and other controlled substances for illegal Internet pharmacies. A conviction could be “material,” the company said today in a regulatory filing.

The operator of the world’s largest (FDX:US) cargo airline was charged by the U.S. with 15 counts of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and misbranded drugs and drug trafficking that carry a potential fine of twice the gains from the conduct, alleged to be at least $820 million for it and co-conspirators.

Yes, it could be material.

Now here's why I shake my head.

FedEx is a "common carrier"; they move boxes.  The standard for them to be held responsible for what is in the box rests with knowing transport of material that is illegal or is being furnished in an unlawful manner.

FedEx claims that "policing customers would violate their privacy" but that is not the point -- if I take a box labeled "child pornography" to the UPS or FedEx store, would they accept and transport it without question?  Of course not.

So how is this different?  It only differs in that the conduct wasn't instantly obvious as illegal.  But -- they were warned that it was, and their own couriers are apparently documented as having expressed concerns that hinky things were going on.

Now here's why I bring this story up.

Years ago I got embroiled in a similar controversy related to the Internet when running MCSNet.  I refused to carry and distribute Usenet groups that by their very name denoted illegal activity and material.  That is, I didn't have to "open the box" to know that the material was almost-certainly unlawful -- I only have to look at the label, which, if it accurately described the contents, was sufficient.  (The groups in question claimed to hold both child pornography and pirated material of various sorts for the most part.)

It was my position that if I could not take a package similarly labeled to FedEx or UPS and expect them to ship it I also could not distribute and warehouse the same thing in an electronic format, and those who did should face the prospect of prosecution for doing so.

This made me extremely unpopular with a large segment of Internet users and virtually all of my competitors, as you might imagine -- particularly considering that more than 3/4 of the data and storage requirements for the facility in question on a volume basis were concentrated in these facially-labeled "bad" areas!

So now FedEx finds itself in a somewhat-similar situation, albeit without the labels on the outside of the box.  But IMHO where they will (and should) lose turns on their constructive and actual knowledge -- if, as is asserted, their couriers were filing reports with senior management making clear that this conduct was taking place over a material period of time, implicating not individual random events but rather a pattern of conduct the indictment appears to be facially valid.

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Microsoft is firing 18,000 people, or something like 14% of its workforce.

These won't be people cleaning toilets -- they are going to primarily be managers, if the press release is to be believed.  The so-called rightsizing will of course mean that the company will spend less on employee compensation, which ought to be good for the stock, right?

Ok, as far as it goes.

Who buys product without income?

Ah, there's the problem.

The issue, broadly, is that you can goose earnings this way in the short term but in the longer term whether you sell product and service directly to end consumers or not if I don't have a job I don't have any money and can't buy things.

This in turn feeds back into the economy and slows things down.

Microsoft probably needed to do this, incidentally; bloated and inefficient companies aren't so good either.  

But never forget that one man's benefit to his or her balance sheet is often someone else's detriment.

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