Tagged: Security concerns

Govt says will ask Google, Skype to give data access

Reuters | Sep 1, 2010 | 7:07pm IST

logo_skype India on Wednesday launched a clampdown on major Internet communications firms, including Google and Skype, and began accessing some BlackBerry traffic in a campaign driven by security fears. Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said notices were being sent to Google and Skype asking them to set up servers in India and allow access to web data that officials fear could be misused by militants. Several other countries, most of them in the Middle East, have raised concerns that the BlackBerry might be used to aid terrorism or peddle pornography. But India could be the first to act against firms such as BlackBerry maker RIM, setting a precedent that could hurt companies with a reputation built on system security. Such moves could also impact the shape of India’s mobile phone market, the world’s fastest-growing, and possibly hand gains to Apple Inc and Nokia, BlackBerry’s two biggest smartphone rivals in India.

Pillai’s comments come after a weeks-long standoff between India and BlackBerry over a workable way for the government to monitor its data. India has said it wants the means to fully track and read BlackBerry communications. RIM won a reprieve this week after the government said the smartphone company had offered some solutions to access data which it was studying. India’s Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said RIM had begun giving India access to its secure data from Wednesday. "Discussions for technical solutions for further access are continuing and the matter will be reviewed within 60 days," Chidambaram said in a statement. A Google spokeswoman based in India said: "We have not received any communication on this issue from the government. If and when we do, we will review and respond."

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RIM looks forward as India, other challenges loom

BBC News | Aug 27, 2010 10:34pm IST

BlackBerry from RIM Research In Motion, its global growth and its secure-email niche challenged by both rivals and governments, is preparing for a long fight it may yet lose on a shifting battlefield. The Canadian company’s BlackBerry smartphone was once a byword for safe corporate communication. But its North American market share has shrunk as some core clients loosen security specifications to let employees use alternatives like Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system. And RIM’s new BlackBerry Torch touchscreen phone, a possible rival to the iPhone, has met a muted reception. In a parallel challenge, India and other countries are seeking enhanced access to BlackBerry emails and instant messages. "Apple and Android have changed the world RIM created," said Ian Grant, the head of telecom consultancy SeaBoard Group. "But they’re actually expanding the universe more than they are cannibalizing it."

RIM launched the Torch amid unusual fanfare this month as it sought to reinvigorate its image with consumers amid a shrinking divide between devices for business and pleasure. But the high-profile launch failed to drum up even a hint of the excitement generated by Apple launches and no one lined up for hours at a flagship store — RIM doesn’t even have one. The Torch, which combines the familiar RIM keyboard with the sexier touchscreen and an updated operating system, may be a slow-burn device that catches up with competitors rather than overtaking them, but it’s not an Apple-style revolution. In its efforts to catch up, RIM has purchased an application storefront company called Cellmania to grow its revamped BlackBerry App World, whose 9,000-odd offerings are eclipsed by Apple’s 200,000-plus third-party applications.

Cellmania, bought for an undisclosed price, will give RIM a way to track downloaded content and let users have charges included in regular phone bills. Its clients include AT&T, which has exclusive U.S. rights to the Torch, Australia’s Telstra and Spain’s Telefonica. RIM has also claimed the web domain http://www.blackpad.com, in what industry-watchers speculate is a preparatory move toward launching a tablet computer of the same name this year — perhaps a secure, business-friendly rival to the iPad.

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India approves Chinese telco gear orders -Reuters

Reuters | Aug 20, 2010 | 5:36pm IST

India has allowed two telecoms firms to buy equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE after the Chinese firms agreed to New Delhi’s tighter rules to address security concerns, sources said on Friday. This year, India barred some local mobile phone operators from placing orders with Huawei and ZTE on security concerns, resulting from its suspicion that Chinese equipment might have spying technology embedded to intercept sensitive conversations and government communications. A source with direct knowledge said Tata Teleservices, which had applied for government approval to buy telecoms gear from Huawei and ZTE, received the goahead after the Chinese firms accepted all the conditions set by India. “They (Huawei and ZTE) have said they agree with all the new terms and conditions, after which the government cleared applications,” the source said.

Last month, India tightened rules for telecom gear imports, saying vendors must allow inspection of their equipment and share design and source codes in escrow accounts. Separately, an application by Reliance Communications, India’s second-biggest mobile operator, to order equipment from ZTE has also been approved, another source said. The Indian government’s move to bar the Chinese firms had hit their growth in a booming market that is the world’s fastest-growing by subscribers and is getting ready for rollout of 3G and broadband networks. ZTE’s second-quarter profit fell below market expectations after the Indian restrictions. Continue reading

India sets Blackberry monitoring deadline

India has sent formal notices to the country’s mobile operators telling them they must have equipment to monitor Blackberry services by 31 August. The move will increase pressure on Blackberry maker Research in Motion (RIM) to allow Indian security agencies access to encrypted messages. Tata Teleservices told BBC News that the letter said it must “ensure that Legal Intervention (LI) capability is put in place” by the end of the month. RIM said it grants “lawful” access. A spokesperson for Tata Teleservices said: “As a Tata Group company, we have always abided by the law of the land and will do so here too”. Other operators have confirmed that they received a similar request.
‘Terrorism threat’
The government has said it will shut down Blackberry services if the firm does not meet its demands to give access to its encrypted messenger and e-mail services by 31 August. In statement released on 12 August, the government said that other Blackberry services, including voice and SMS traffic, were already “available to law enforcement agencies”. India, along with many other countries, believes the device and the Blackberry infrastructure are a threat to national security. Blackberry handsets automatically scramble messages and send them to servers in Canada and other countries. Authorities have said they want access to these messages and the keys to decrypt them to counter terrorism and criminal activity. The row in India is the latest in a long-running dispute between RIM and international governments. The United Arab Emirates was the first country to propose a block on the devices, followed by a raft of others including Lebanon, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. A ban that was supposed to come into force on 6 August in Saudi Arabia has been postponed whilst the government holds talks with RIM.
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BlackBerry Concerns around the World – Graphic

Reuters | Aug 13, 2010 | 2:52am IST

Concerns are expressed over data encryption system offered by BlackBerry to it’s customers. Messenger services and email services offered to corporate customers through ‘BlackBerry Enterprise Server’ is associated with strong encryption system. Which means data that flows through ‘BES’ can not be seen by others including BlackBerry maker ‘Research In Motion’ based in Ontario, Canada. Because codes used to encrypt the data is chosen by corporate customers but not controlled by the RIM. ‘BlackBerry Internet Service’ (BIS) is meant for consumer customers and small business which doesn’t provide encryption level equal to that provided to corporate customers through BES. Various countries are concerned with this encryption facility due to different reasons. Some say militants and terrorists may make use of BES encryption system to hide their communications from the government. Some say such facilities may be exploited for viewing pornography.

Graphical view of different countries that expressed concerns with BlackBerry and number of customers belonging to those counties, is provided hereunder.

Source: Reuters

RIM Reassures Goldman, JPMorgan Over BlackBerry Concerns

Bloomberg | Aug 14, 2010 | 1:45 AM GMT+0530

Research In Motion Ltd. is seeking to reassure Wall Street customers about the security of its BlackBerry e-mail service as countries including Saudi Arabia and India press for more access to its network, said two people familiar with the situation. RIM has held at least one conference call in the past week with clients including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to discuss BlackBerry operations. At least one corporate customer has told RIM it’s not satisfied with the explanations so far and is seeking an additional meeting. The talks underscore the challenges for Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM as it expands in emerging markets as growth in North America slows. Sales outside North America rose to 37 percent of RIM’s $15 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year, up from 23 percent in the fiscal year ended February, 2005. Corporate customers such as Wall Street banks favor RIM’s BlackBerry because its encryption and other safeguards protect communications from prying eyes. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and India have pushed for more access to BlackBerry services, out of concern the smartphone could be used to coordinate terrorist attacks or violate national mores.

Loopholes in System

Saudi authorities decided this week to allow the BlackBerry messaging service to continue in the country, after threatening a ban. RIM and the kingdom’s wireless operators are making progress in implementing a system to allow monitoring of user data, the state-owned Saudi Press Agency said, citing the country’s telecommunications regulator. Such reports have prompted questions from corporate customers about whether RIM is making concessions on the security of its software, said one of the people familiar with the conference call. RIM fell 77 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $53.40 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Since the U.A.E. said on Aug. 1 that it plans to suspend BlackBerry service, the shares have lost 7.2 percent. Continue reading

US says it is not mediating between Blackberry maker and India

Yahoo News | PTI | Sat, Aug 14 2010 | 11:42 AM

The US has said it is not mediating between the Blackberry maker RIM and India, which has asked the smartphone vendor to provide access to some of mobile messaging services or face ban in that country.”While we have been in touch with our foreign partners, this is a matter for Research in Motion (RIM) to work out directly with Indian officials,” the State Department said in a statement in response to a question if the US is mediating on the Blackberry dispute. With several countries including India, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia threatening to stall Blackberry services in their countries because of similar concerns, the State Department official this week met RIM officials to discuss the issue.

The State Department officials have also been in touch with these countries to understand their security concerns. The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, last week had termed the security concerns of these countries as legitimate. “We are taking time to consult and analyse the full range of interests and issues at stake because we know that there is a legitimate security concern, but there’s also a legitimate right of free use and access. So, I think we will be pursuing both technical and expert discussions as we go forward,” Clinton said.

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India to target Google, Skype messaging next – FT

Reuters | Aug 13, 2010 | 8:10am IST

India may shut down Google and Skype Internet-based messaging services over security concerns, the Financial Times reported on Friday, as the government threatened a similar crackdown on BlackBerry services. The Financial Times quoted from the minutes of a July 12 meeting between telecommunication ministry security officials and operator associations to look at possible solutions to “intercept and monitor” encrypted communications. “There was consensus that there [is] more than one type of service for which solutions are to be explored. Some of them are BlackBerry, Skype, Google etc,” according to the department’s minutes. “It was decided first to undertake the issue of BlackBerry and then the other services.”

On Thursday, the Indian government became the latest of several nations that have threatened to cut off Research In Motion’s encrypted BlackBerry email and instant messaging services if the Canadian company does not address national security concerns. India has set an Aug 31. deadline for RIM. It wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on grounds it could be used by militants. Pakistani-based militants used mobile and satellite phones in the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. India’s demands follow a deal with Saudi Arabia, where a source said Research In Motion agreed to give authorities codes for BlackBerry Messenger users. The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Algeria also seek access. Officials say RIM had proposed tracking emails without sharing encryption details, but that was not enough.

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Govt says BlackBerry meeting “inconclusive”

Reuters | Thu Aug 12, 2010 | 1:45pm IST

A meeting of government officials and telecoms operators on whether to restrict Research in Motion’s BlackBerry services over national security fears was inconclusive, a top government official said on Thursday. Worried about security, the home ministry held the meeting with at least one operator on Thursday to look at how security services could access encryption details for the smartphone, the latest global headache for maker RIM. State-run BSNL attended the meeting, but it was not clear whether any of the major private carriers attended. A telecoms ministry official, who asked not to be named, said the talks remained “inconclusive” after the meeting. A senior government official said on Wednesday that the government could ask mobile phone operators to block BlackBerry messaging and email until RIM provides access to data transmitted over the handset. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone’s VOD India unit are the largest providers of BlackBerry services in India, the world’s fastest growing market. A shutdown would affect one million of the smartphone’s 41 million users. India is one of RIM’s fastest growing markets.

If a shutdown takes effect, BlackBerry users in India would only be able to use the devices for phone calls and Internet browsing. In a matter of a few weeks the BlackBerry device — long the darling of the world’s CEOs and politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama — has become the target for its encrypted email and messaging services. India, like several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, want access to encrypted Blackberry communication. India fears encrypted data can be used by militants. Pakistani-based militants used mobile and satellite phones in the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people. The Indian demands follow a deal with Saudi Arabia, where a source said RIM has agreed to give authorities codes for BlackBerry Messenger users. The United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Algeria are also seeking access. A spokesman based in India for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company did not comment on the talks.

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Saudi Arabia puts pressure on RIM with renewed threat of ban

itbusiness | 9/8/2010 | 9:28:00

Saudi Arabia’s telecom regulator stepped up the pressure late Saturday on Research In Motion (RIM) by giving three local telecommunications operators up to the end of Monday to ensure that the BlackBerry service meets with its regulations. The kingdom had on Tuesday ordered a suspension of BlackBerry services from Friday. That deadline has been extended by 48 hours, according to the government-controlled Saudi Press Agency, which cited a statement by the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC). RIM and Saudi Arabia have arrived at a preliminary agreement that will involve the company setting up a server in the kingdom and providing the government access to the data, according to media reports earlier on Saturday from Saudi Arabia.

The extension of the deadline suggests that RIM and the authorities in Saudi Arabia are close to a solution, Matthew Reed, head of research on wireless telecommunications in the Middle East and Africa for Informa Telecoms & Media, said on Sunday. A CITC official, when contacted, however, declined to comment on Saturday whether the talks were over, or had arrived at a resolution. Satchit Gayakwad, RIM’s spokesman in India, said in an e-mail on Sunday that the company did not have any updates to share on the issue. An agreement between RIM and Saudi Arabia could have implications in other countries, including India, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Indonesia, Reed said. These countries are also demanding that RIM locate servers within their national borders, so that their security forces can access the data when required.

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Telecoms min sees solution on BlackBerry soon

Telecoms min sees solution on BlackBerry soon | Reuters  Aug 5, 2010 | 1:39pm IST

India has not yet reached an agreement with BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion(RIM.TO), the country’s telecoms minister said on Thursday, after the government raised security concerns over the popular services. India is worried that BlackBerry services could be misused by militants as security agencies cannot access the messages sent through these services and has asked RIM to offer a solution to address the country’s security requirements. Andimuthu Raja told reporters that officials of the Department of Telecommunications and RIM were still discussing the issue. “We have not reached an agreement so far. Hopefully some solution will come out soon,” he said.

The government may block the BlackBerry messenger service but allow emails and voicemails if a solution is not reached, the Times of India said on Thursday, citing unnamed sources. Such a move would follow Saudi Arabia, which has said it would block BlackBerry messenger services, starting Friday. RIM has said that it is impossible for it or any other third party to read encrypted data sent via its enterprise offering and that the company cannot accommodate any request for a copy of a customer’s encryption key.   Continue reading

BlackBerry poses social, security risks, UAE warns

Reuters| Sun Jul 25, 2010 | 8:54pm IST

The BlackBerry, made by Canada’s ‘Research In Motion’, is open to misuse that poses security risks to the United Arab Emirates, which said on Sunday it would seek to safeguard its consumers and laws. Gulf state Bahrain in April warned against the use of BlackBerry Messenger software to distribute local news, drawing criticism from media freedom watchdog ‘Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) which called it an act of censorship. That sparked concerns that other Gulf countries might also consider curbing the use of certain applications on the BlackBerry, which holds around 20 percent of the global smartphone market behind Nokia but ahead of Apple.

BlackBerry was operating "beyond the jurisdiction of national legislation", the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in a statement issued on Sunday. "As a result of how BlackBerry data is managed and stored, in their current form, certain BlackBerry applications allow people to misuse the service, causing serious social, judicial and national security repercussions." The UAE was working to resolve "these critical issues with the objective of finding a solution that safeguards our consumers and operates within the boundaries of UAE law."

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Govt. raises security concerns over BlackBerry services

Reuters | Thu Jul 29, 2010 | 1:14pm IST

India has raised security concerns with Research In Motion over the Canadian company’s popular BlackBerry services, but is not planning a ban in the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market. Internal Security Chief U.K. Bansal told reporters on Thursday that he hoped Indian concerns that militants may use the BlackBerry data services would be resolved soon. "They (RIM) have assured us that they will be addressing it," Bansal said.

Security officials are concerned that the BlackBerry services poses a national security threat because of encrypted data sent on RIM devices. They want access to the encrypted services. The home ministry has clamped down on mobile phone operators following the Mumbai attacks in 2008, which killed 166 people. India said on Wednesday telecoms equipment vendors must allow inspection of their gear and made carriers solely responsible for the security of their networks, addressing security worries that had led to restrictions on Chinese manufacturers.   

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Govt sorting out China telco imports – official

Reuters | NEW DELHI | Fri Jul 9, 2010 | 2:55pm IST

India is working to sort out restrictions on Chinese telecommunications equipment imports, the country’s top telecoms official said on Friday, without providing a timeframe for a decision. Earlier this year, India had barred Indian mobile phone operators from placing orders with China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp because of security concerns, Indian telecom industry officials have said. India is concerned that Chinese equipment may have spying technology embedded to intercept sensitive conversations and government documents, highlighting government security concerns.

However, in June a government source had told Reuters that India might allow Chinese telecom equipment imports after putting in place security checks, indicating a softening of India’s position on an issue that has clouded ties between the two Asian powers. "We are working on that," P.J. Thomas, India’s telecommunications secretary told reporters on Friday. "We had discussions with organisations, associations and they have of course helped us with their own suggestions."  

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Australia says athletes to decide on Delhi participation

Reuters | Sydney | Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:23pm IST

The Australian government has ruled out ordering a boycott of this year’s Commonwealth Games in India despite fresh warnings from security experts over the safety of visiting athletes. Australia’s acting foreign minister Simon Crean said the government was monitoring security arrangements in New Delhi but the final decision about participating in the Games would be left to competitors and sporting bodies. “In the end, it is not a decision for the government whether the team actually goes,” Crean told reporters on Sunday. “It is a decision for the athletes. It is also a decision for the sporting bodies.” “At this stage, we continue to say there is no reason for concern. That is a view that has been expressed by the sporting bodies and by a number of athletes.”

Crean’s comments followed a warning in Australian media about security arrangements for the Commonwealth Games. The Sunday Telegraph quoted Lloyd Bromfield, described by the newspaper as an international security consultant who had worked at the past three Olympics and had been hired for London in 2012, as saying New Delhi represented a real risk to visiting athletes. “The worst-case scenario could be a major      Continue reading