RIM co-CEO Lazaridis on the iPhone, Mobile Device Management, and the Best BlackBerry Product You've Never Heard Of

Mike Lazaridis, Research In Motion (RIM) co-CEO, sat down with CIO at WES: Here's the BlackBerry chief's take on the biggest challenges for CIOs tackling enterprise mobility, the arch-rival Apple iPhone and RIM's little-known Bluetooth smart card reader.

Tue, May 20, 2008
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The Little-Known BlackBerry Smart Card Reader

The word BlackBerry is immediately associated with RIM's handhelds, and more specifically, the "iconic" keyboard, but in reality, RIM also offers a number of noteworthy products that are often overshadowed by BlackBerry mobile devices, Lazaridis says.

For instance, RIM is a software developer as well as a hardware manufacturer. Its BES software is employed by enterprises around the world to connect and secure corporate mail clients and other applications. And RIM also develops various apps, for both consumers and businesses, such as the new BlackBerry Wallet, which can be used to store and secure sensitive information like credit card numbers and shipping addresses.

But the one product Mike Lazaridis says just doesn't get the attention it deserves, at least from a mass audience, is RIM's BlackBerry Smart Card Reader.

BlackBerry Smart Card Reader
BlackBerry Smart Card Reader

The product can be worn via lanyard or carried in a pocket, and it enables IT-controlled access to Bluetooth-enabled BlackBerry devices and computers using advanced AES-256 encryption. It meets all two-factor authentication requirements, and is about the size of a newer BlackBerry, though significantly lighter.

Corporations or organizations with strict security policies or that need to comply with government directives can use the BlackBerry Smart Card Reader to boost the security of their existing BlackBerry infrastructure. And IT administrators can remotely manage the lifetime of the security keys used on the reader.

To employ the reader, users insert their smartcards into its face, so no awkward peripherals like serial or USB card reader are required. And there's no physical connection to handhelds or PCs because it uses Bluetooth, so there's less risk of a user leaving it behind.

When used in conjunction with BlackBerry Enterprise solution software, the reader offers such advanced security features as AES-256 encryption; FIPS 140-2 validated encryption module; S/MIME support; and wireless IT policy enforcement.

"The [BlackBerry Smart Card Reader] actually offers 3-factor authentication," Lazaridis says, meaning not only do users need to have something physical to gain access--the card reader--and know something--a password--but also, the product can disable connections to BlackBerrys or computers when users leave Bluetooth range.

"You're much less likely to leave the thing plugged into a computer because it's not physically attached. And if you take it with you, the connection to the drive is broken even though the device may still be open," Lazaridis says.

A demonstration of how the product works can be found on RIM's website.

(Just in case you're wondering, Lazaridis wore one of those shiny new BlackBerry Bold smartphones holstered on his belt throughout the interview with CIO.)

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