There is a data security crisis in the United States.  Cyber attackers are rapidly becoming savvier, and new threats are prompting government, enterprises and individuals alike to seek technology that adequately secures their communications and mobile infrastructures.

Technology and policy decision-makers in the U.S. government are at the forefront of this crisis. They are faced with an urgent need to implement policies that protect critical national interests, citizens and businesses while simultaneously providing the most up-to-date and innovative technologies. To further complicate matters, they must do so with fewer resources and increasingly diminished budgets.


Over the years, I have seen cyber threats grow in sophistication. My professional experience has exposed me to the rapidly changing mobile and wireless industry for more than two decades.  I know firsthand that there is a critical need for government and the technology industry to develop a more streamlined and collaborative approach to data security.  At BlackBerry, we work closely with our government customers to meet their stringent standards to protect information. We believe that by adhering to the following steps, government and enterprises will be able to identify technologies and solutions that help organizations mitigate security threats:

  • Collaborate and communicate. Governments and enterprises should stay in constant contact to determine how to prevent malicious attacks.
  • Follow guidelines.  Utilize guidelines which clearly define an organization’s mobile security policy.
  • Stay ahead of the curve.  Preemptively securing data saves valuable time, resources and public interest.  Governments and enterprises can no longer ask themselves “if” a cyber-attack will happen, instead they must prepare for “when” it will happen. 
  • Select trusted and certified technology. Using mobile devices and solutions with complete end-to-end encryption is always the best way to proactively secure data.

We are acutely aware that the technology industry and government can greatly benefit by working hand-in-hand to create more advanced and trusted mobile solutions.  For example, in 2012, the industry convened dozens of companies to form the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance to help close the gap of interoperability among strong authentication devices.  While this effort is a positive first step to sharing best practices for protecting data, it’s simply not enough.   Information technology directors in both the public and private sectors are working diligently to better secure the mobile communications of their workforces. Therefore, stronger collaborations amongst government and enterprises should be a key part of the next era of mobile communications. 

It’s no secret that requirements and security standards will constantly evolve, so governments and enterprises must look to one another to determine how to best keep data safe and secure. Considering the range and growing prevalence of cyber-attacks, governments and enterprises should work to create mobile security guidelines that can be utilized across public and private sectors.

As an initial step, enterprises can follow the government’s lead by selecting mobile solutions and technologies that have been awarded best-in-class security certifications. For example, the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are an established and credible framework that ensures federal government and agencies adhere to rigorously stringent  guidelines for  mobile security and communication.  By selecting mobile solutions that meet these stringent standards, users within the enterprise can rest assured that the technology has passed rigorous testing in order to secure sensitive information through vulnerable channels. 

Recently, Germany’s Federal Ministry of the Interior announced that its officials would be using encrypted BlackBerrys for information security. At BlackBerry, we believe that end-to-end encryption should always be the gold standard for mobile security. The U.S. government and enterprises would be better equipped to tackle emerging cyber threats if they implemented devices with certified end-to-end security.

If government and enterprises work cooperatively with the technology industry to establish stronger collaboration, we will be able to take a step forward in both combatting and preventing cyber threats.

Sims is president of Global Enterprise Services for BlackBerry.