When I was researching my options into which smartphone to upgrade to earlier this year, I was put on to the BlackBerry Z10 as a viable option and so far, so good.
Therefore the news about the company’s financial downturn and apparent acquisition
by Fairfax Financial strikes the first blow in the fast-paced world of the smartphone. It was pointed out on Twitter that the $4.7 billion (£3 billion) deal is not as valuable as Apple’s sales from the past weekend after the launch of two new devices, but after the launch of two new devices earlier this year, BlackBerry has not seen the best period of critical acclaim or growth it seems. Some will blame the growth of the Android platform, some the popularity of Apple devices, others will point the cause at “creative director” Alicia Keys
Having been a BlackBerry user for only a matter of months, I am a convert to the device despite its limited application store. What surprises me most about the fall of BlackBerry is the government contracts it has and the value of them; surely any potential buyer is going to see that as a major acquisition alongside the brand? For those corporate and government users, the potential ownership of the brand could be an issue – what would happen if Huawei (for example) acquired BlackBerry? This could be the time for government IT to step up its approval of other options.
Sticking with phones, I was interested to read a story
on the Register this week which revealed that New York City police officers are advising citizens to upgrade to iOS7 due to its location capabilities and security benefits. I suspect this was issued ahead of the revealed
vulnerabilities in the new software, and more to do with a potential reduction in lost and found devices, cutting down on lost property storage needs and enabling users to locate their devices themselves.
The biggest news story of this week has undoubtedly been around the hacking
of Apple’s Touch ID and the payment of a crowd-sourced bounty to “Starbug” who managed to crack it using a fake fingerprint. Very James Bond.
However the use of fingerprint technology not only raises the issue of multi-factor authentication, but also the viability of biometrics and the question of what happens if that “token” is intercepted. I looked
at this back in 2010 and I think it is fair to say that the issue has not really been solved in the three years since. If a fingerprint is hacked, it is not a case of changing a password, it is about losing something personal and identifiable to a single person on this planet and replacing it is not easy.
I have been for the use of biometrics with devices for some time as the technology is there with the smart touch screens, but surely with this first major use the fallibility has been proven and I have been shown to be wrong. Also critical of the use of fingerprint technology was US senator Al Franken, who said in a letter to Apple chie
f executive officer Tim Cook that Apple’s decision to use the fingerprint reader will “surely pave the way for its peers and smaller competitors to adopt biometric technology with varying protections for privacy”, according to the Irish Times
The Minnesota Democrat made the point that “if hackers get a hold of your thumbprint, they could use it to identify and impersonate you for the rest of your life”, proving that beyond a group of researchers and white hats, the challenge of secure authentication has reached the top of global politics.