Feeds

UAE looks to block BlackBerry mail, again

Targeting the little people

Best practices for enterprise data

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. ®

Recommendations for simplifying OS migration

More from The Register

next story
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms
Readers chat to the pair who flog the tech
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?