Governments are hopeless at information security

One of the good things about BlackBerry – apart from the main client platform that will never get really damaging and widespread malware – is clever server infrastructure that routes data streams between the handhelds and the enterprise infrastructure. A mother ship in Canada handles all signaling and connections between various operators around the world so that roaming experience is really smooth (this also contributes to the business model that makes the operators hugely enthusiastic about BlackBerry). Data communication is direct between the handheld and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, using UDP. Using Wi-Fi is possible. All is heavily encrypted.

But one thing happens over and over when governmentslook at BlackBerry security: they suddenly learn about the Canadian intermediary (for they believe it is), become concerned about non-existing snooping possibility, and place BlackBerry on hold for pointless yet lenghty review. It happened before in Australia. Now it happens in France: Blackberries nipped amid security fears. Some interesting details:

BlackBerry handheld computers, or “Le BlackBerry” as they are known France, have been called addictive, invasive, tiresome for thumbs – and, now, a threat to French secrets.

That, at least, is the fear of French government defence experts who have advised against their use by officials in France’s corridors of power, reportedly to avoid snooping by US intelligence agencies and the loss of commercial and other secrets.

“It’s not a question of trust,” French legislator Pierre Lasbordes said today. “We are friends with the Americans, the Anglo-Saxons, but it’s economic war.”

Lasbordes, who was commissioned in 2005 by then-Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to look into such issues, said he alerted the government about the issue months ago.

So it took two years for a politician to identify a non-issue as a problem. Apparently RIM cannot easily stand up to the politicians’ stupidity:

The Canadian company “admitted that there was a certain fragility in the protection of information when you use the email system” and promised it would be resolved, said Lasbordes, adding: “That was more than a year ago.”

Of course, we shall never know what exactly is that certain fragility, because it is certaintly an uncertainty – please pardon my French. And, of course, there is another official to voice the concerns:

BlackBerries pose “a problem with the protection of information” and “the risks of interception are real,” Alain Juillet, in charge of economic intelligence for the government, told Le Monde.

What is the most amazing here is that the Mr. Jullet is responsible for some kind of intelligence. He should know the meaning of “real”.

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