Feeds

UAE looks to block BlackBerry mail, again

Targeting the little people

High performance access to file storage

Small companies in the UAE will no longer be permitted to use BlackBerry email services, according to local reports, and access will be cut off in the next two weeks.

The National, an Abu Dhabi paper, tells us that the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has issued guidelines saying that any company with fewer than 20 accounts is to have its BlackBerry service suspended, while those with more users will have to have a trade licence and, we assume, respond to appropriate requests for lawful intercept of communications.

Which is what all this is about. BlackBerry handsets communicate with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) using highly secure cryptography, making interception impractical even by governments. The solution is to listen in at the ends – before or after the encryption is done – but that has proven more difficult than anticipated.

United Arab Emirates operator Etisalat already tried listening in at the handset end – distributing a faked update which included eavesdropping code. That didn't work out, and since then the government has been trying to find a way to access to the BES servers. RIM has obstinately refused to put a back door into its server software (knowing that such a thing would be commercial suicide when it leaked out), leaving the UAE government with no option but to petition the companies running the BES servers themselves.

RIM hosts some servers, for individual accounts and small companies, which are now (we understand) located within the UAE and thus subject to lawful intercept. But RIM also provides a free version of its BES software which any small company can stick onto a PC for truly secure communications, and that presents a significant problem for the security forces.

So, from the end of this month, Etisalat, the local operator with the BlackBerry monopoly, will start cutting communications for any company with fewer than 20 accounts. Etisalat has written to those users to warn them they will need to start using hosted BES servers, or drop out of communication entirely.

That works for an individual's communications, but it means losing the group-focused capabilities for which BlackBerrys are so deservedly vaunted: meeting notes, calendar synchronisation and similar features disappear for the sake of national security as small companies become collections of individuals rather than aspiring enterprises. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.