BlackBerry has had a tough time of it lately. Having once held over 20% of the global smartphone market share in early 2009, their phones now represent less than .1% of global smartphones in use now. The device battle may have been lost, but Blackberry now has a different focus to stay competitive: providing services for mobile users. Namely, security and device management products such as Blackberry Enterprise Server 12 Multi-OS MDM.
Mobile device management is a safe field in which to invest and develop products, and Blackberry has extensive experience in this realm. After all, their Blackberry Enterprise Service products paved the way for comprehensive, granular device controls to define what users can and cannot do with their devices.
Blackberry recently announced a partnership with mobile security provider Zimperium to offer mobile threat detection/prevention and risk analysis services for enterprise and government customer iOS and Android devices. Zimperium uses zIPS device protection technology to restrict device, network and application attacks, and this now integrates with BlackBerry's Good Secure EMM Suites and BES12.
I spoke with John Michelsen, Chief Product Officer at Zimperium regarding the details behind the partnership.
TR: What does this mean for the future of Zimperium? How about Blackberry?
Michelsen: "For Zimperium, this shows our commitment to building an ecosystem of world class performers in their fields. We have a vision of a complete security solution that requires our technology, but integrates deeply with enterprise systems and other facets of security that customers may also need or already use. Zimperium will grow faster with a great friend and partner like Blackberry.For Blackberry, this helps fulfill their mission to transform into a world class security company and a go-to partner to customers for a great portfolio of security solutions."
TR: Is Blackberry done with devices and shifting to a service-oriented model?
Michelsen: "In addition to our recent integration, BlackBerry also purchased Good Technology and Watchdox, so the company is moving toward more of a software company than a hardware company."
TR: How does this announcement help with the answer to the previous question?
Michelsen: "Our integration is a significant differentiator for BlackBerry, as it signals to the market that the company is serious about protecting its customers and taking responsibility for helping reduce the business risk of mobility. Competitors will have to follow suit with integrated solutions of their own."
TR: How will devices be integrated in/protected by this security model?
Michelsen: "Zimperium's technology is the first to deliver continuous and real-time, on-device cyberthreat protection for both iOS and Android devices and applications. Our zIPS technology is fully integrated into BlackBerry's Good Dynamics Secure Mobility Platform and BES12, which is part of the Good Secure EMM Suites from BlackBerry. Unlike other solutions that may funnel data to the cloud for analysis, zIPS isn't reliant on an Internet connection. Not relying on an internet connection enables a better experience for BlackBerry's enterprise and government customers."
TR: What is the anticipated change to a company's infrastructure to implement this?
Michelsen: "Customers already deploying BES or Good Dynamics will be able to leverage the Zimperium solution simply by configuring the solution in the Blackberry dashboard. This will cause the synchronization of data, deployment of the Zimperium solution, and backend integration of data being collected by Zimperium."
TR: What is the anticipated pricing model?
Michelsen: "The product costs $10 a month per device, with bulk discounts available, and BlackBerry will take an undisclosed cut of sales."
TR: What benefits are sought for consumers here? For Zimperium and Blackberry, respectively?
Michelsen: "Our integration makes it easy for customers with a comprehensive, all-in-one solution. Enterprise mobile management systems typically don't include protection against threats or malware —- customers usually have to download a separate threat protection system to run on their mobile devices. Instead of shopping around for multiple solutions, enterprises are able to come to a single supplier. BlackBerry's cross-device strategy is a good example of how vendor partnerships with mobile threat detection integrations can increase productivity."
TR: What unique advantages/benefits will this solution provide?
Michelsen: "Not only does our technology deliver continuous and real-time, cyber threat protection for both iOS and Android devices and applications, but the zIPS solution is able to detect vulnerabilities in the system's CPU, memory and other parameters to determine whether they are malicious. From there, our technology immediately remediates through the BlackBerry enterprise mobility management controls and policies, which allows for auto-responses to remotely lock or wipe containerized apps on the compromised device.zIPS protects against a broad array of device, network, and application mobile attacks. These attacks can include sophisticated OS/kernel exploitation or attempts to intercept Secure-Socket-Layer (SSL) encrypted network traffic. Zimperium also protects against malicious apps that may be on a user's device, considered part of their personal use apps and yet adjacent to a containerized business app."
TR: What future enhancements are being considered or planned?
Michelsen: "Blackberry is already a leading EMM solution but we know they have great plans for further enhancement. We at Zimperium are already ahead of our competitors and moving at a faster velocity on expanding our product capabilities. We are working together on several other projects with Blackberry, but no additional announcements are ready for the public at this time."
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Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.