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Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Technology]

I've gotten a bit of attention with my rants about S/MIME and BlackBerry, so let me add a bit of color and backstory to it.

Nobody gives a damn about privacy and security, except BlackBerry.  That's a fact folks.  Apple claims they're not "focused" on using your data for advertising purposes, but they then force all the data through their systems for things like iMessage.  And by the way, that's neither seamless or painless either; I just watched someone with an iPhone lose all of the MMS images in their device, permanently.  It is apparently a relatively common bug to run into in iMessage and if it bites you then you're just plain screwed.

As for Google and Android they don't try to hide their intent at all.  Google wants your data, as much of it as it can get, for the purpose of selling advertising.  That's their business model, for good or bad, and when you use an Android device that's what you're giving to them.

In this context is it surprising that Android's email application, even in the 5.x branches of Android doesn't support secure transmission (e.g. S/MIME)?  Not at all; how could Google scan your email and use it to sell you things if it was encrypted?  They couldn't, but they both can and do exactly that right now.  You may be ok with it but a lot of people aren't and nobody should be, because it's one small step from there to using that data for more-nefarious purposes than advertising.

So with this in mind consider that BlackBerry's BB10 devices have always supported secure email.  Now their support is broken in a couple of critical ways, but 10.3.2, which is coming (the next firmware update) does allow it for non-BES devices provided you have an Exchange connection to your email server.

Well, theoretically it does anyway.  In practice it's not quite so clean.  For example, Outlook.Com, Microsoft's free email service, doesn't work properly when enrolled through BES even though the protocol is Exchange.  This strongly implies that 10.3.2 won't work through either, and it's probably not BlackBerry's fault that it doesn't -- it's probably Microsoft intentionally crippling it, perhaps for the same reason Google doesn't support it.

What I can tell you with certainty though is this -- when BlackBerry fixes the MIME problem they currently have, and I have to assume they will fix it, you'll have one full-featured, no-nonsense option for a mobile device that can and does do encrypted and signed email available to you and it won't be from the Fruit Company.

It is for this reason that I am "on" about BlackBerry doing things like requiring Exchange for it to work, however.  It is not, as is frequently proposed, because IMAP is a "lesser" protocol.  It's not; DoveCot among others is an extremely high-performance and secure enterprise-grade email system.  And yes, I fully understand that most large businesses have an Exchange infrastructure irrespective of whether Microsoft produces crap or beauty; it doesn't matter, what's installed for business reasons just is.

But you, as a consumer or small business person, might not have access to an Exchange hosted email system of any sort at all and the "free" or "free sorta" ones probably won't work sufficiently transparently for S/MIME to interoperate.  

And you, as a consumer or small businessperson should care if for no other reason than the fact that there is utterly no reason to expose your email, which almost always contains some sort of private correspondence, to random people who have utterly no legitimate purpose in looking at it.

It is here that it matters, and this is why BlackBerry needs to extend S/MIME support to IMAP mail exchange; simply put even a Gmail account, and virtually all third-party mail hosting systems, can be accessed via IMAP.

There is no technical reason for this not to function as expected.  There are only short-sighted excuses and BlackBerry, with it's BB10 devices and 10.3.x Android compatibility, has a market opportunity that is both unique and unfilled at present by any of their competitors.

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You really are stupid, you're really very dumb......

A European police chief says the sophisticated online communications are the biggest problem for security agencies tackling terrorism.

Hidden areas of the internet and encrypted communications make it harder to monitor terror suspects, warns Europol's Rob Wainwright.

Tech firms should consider the impact sophisticated encryption software has on law enforcement, he said.

Utter and complete crap.

Reality is that strong encryption benefits both the honest and dishonest; the law enforcement agency and the criminal; the state and the individual.  You cannot compromise said strength without the damage done by doing so accruing to everyone.

Since there are far fewer terrorists than legitimate businesses and government agencies the balance is never in favor of restricting the strength of encryption.

That this may, in some cases, make law enforcement's job tougher is just one of those facts of life that you can't get around.  Weakening everyone so you have an easier job is the last refuge of the evil, corrupt bastard entity that likens itself to a public servant.


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