Let Obama keep his BlackBerry, for the infosec industry’s sake

January 20, 2009
When President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in today as the 44th commander-in-chief, will his BlackBerry be bolted to his belt, as we have become so accustomed to seeing?

Well - maybe that's an unfair question, considering the formality of the inauguration proceedings. But right after he pledges to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, so help him God, will he reach for that addictive device and immediately start firing off emails.
From Barack Obama (12:26 p.m.) Hey did you just check me out on TV?

Perhaps. And perhaps he'll be allowed to do so, as he recently told CNN.

There has been much debate that Obama was going to have to relinquish control of his "third child" come Inauguration Day, mainly because of security concerns.

And there certainly are real concerns, as we have expounded upon in the pages of SC Magazine. We learned, though, that the devices contain some robust encryption and malicious software- and spam-fighting capabilities.

Still, Obama's fight surely got a little more complicated last week when BlackBerry's maker Research in Motion issued a security advisory for two enterprise server vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution.

Obama is the first president to truly embrace the power of the web. As Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post argued at a conference in California not long ago, without the web as a vehicle to raise money and get the word out on his campaign, he never would be taking that oath of office today.

He also is the first president to make cybersecurity a real priority.

So if this former senator is going to preach change on the steps of the Capitol today, we must allow for that change to happen. And that means giving him access to his BlackBerry.

And in a way, wouldn't a mandate forcing Obama to give up the device be a slap in the face to the security industry, the very industry we write about day in and day out? The bad guys always are going to be out there - that doesn't mean we have apply draconian measures to stop them. After 9/11, did we close our borders?

Then again, the president is the president. So if 2008 Obama isn't allowed to keep his prized toy, he's going to have to adjust.

He apparently beat back his cigarette addicition. But believe it or not, quitting technology can be an entirely different story.

 
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