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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

BlackBerry Vulnerability – Where’s the Admin Privileges?

Post by Peter McCalister March 30, 2011

If you haven’t read by now, at this year’s Pwn2Own hacker challenge that took place at CanSecWest in Vancouver last week, the iPhone and Blackberry were both hacked. Teams also demonstrated several vulnerabilities in browsers, macbooks and more.

For RIM the news is considered a major blow, because they sell to corporate customers largely on the basis of security. But here’s the question I’d like to pose - why doesn’t anyone remove admin privileges on devices?

In fact, the control of admin privileges on a mobile device is a perplexing concept for many, even though it makes perfect sense. Here’s your PC, it has admin privileges removed so that users are prompted before malware installs or key settings are changed – that way confidential email, documents and information can be protected.  Now you have the same users and the same data, doing generally the same activities and working for the same company, with a device issued by the same IT department, protecting the same information.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Will hackers and malware developers soon realize that mobile devices are that weakest link?  Some of you may be familiar with our prior reports on the number of Microsoft vulnerabilities that could be mitigated by removing admin privileges. We’re working on this year’s report now.

Maybe next year we’ll have to find out what percent of mobile vulnerabilities could be mitigated by removing admin privileges on corporate phones. What do you think?

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