Companies "too dependent" on mobile technology

Security experts berates companies that have become hooked on their BlackBerrys and other mobile devices.

The recent outage in the BlackBerry email service shows that companies have become too dependent on mobile technology, according to a security expert.

Paul Brettle, UK technical manager at security vendor Stonesoft, said the incident last month where thousands of BlackBerry users were deprived of the service for over a day, also reflected badly on Research in Motion (RIM), creator of the service.

RIM says an update to its caching system led to the outage, which mainly affected US users of the service, blaming 'insufficient testing'.

But Brettle believes that the outage could have been avoided with careful planning and management by RIM, and the effects made less serious on business users.

"What annoyed people wasn't just that it went down, but it stayed down for so long," said Brettle. "RIM deserve a rap on the knuckles, or perhaps more of a kicking. A couple of hours of outage would have been easily within their SLA, and people would have understood."

The incident highlights the importance of some form of resilience, he said, and proves that corporates have become more reliant on mobile communications than is healthy.

"New technologies, like BlackBerry and push email, seem very 'nice to have' to begin with, but all of a sudden you're dependent on them," he said. "If your business processes become totally ingrained with mobile data in this way, then you're knackered if it goes wrong - and it will go pear-shaped at some point."

He said IT managers need to confront what the risk of depending on mobile technology actually is: "Then maybe not to rely on it so much," he said. "RIM is in no position, after all, to guarantee that this won't happen again. But perhaps it's the blind assumption of users that it won't that's really in the wrong. Something serious will happen at some point to any such system. It is just a matter of time"

RIM has already apologised to customers for the outage and promised that it has revamped testing and recovery procedures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

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