There has been word for the past few days that Research In Motion’s PlayBook has been jailbroken. What this means is that, for the first time ever in RIM’s history, root access has been gained into a BlackBerry operating system. Why is this a big deal? Well, of RIM’s few remaining strengths, one of them was security, both in terms of encrypting and securing the messages you send over the RIM network, and device security. It’s why BlackBerry products became so popular with enterprises and governments — security. That device is so secure, that even the President of the United States uses one. Read on for more.
RIM’s new operating system, however, is a different beast. It’s more powerful and it is certainly capable, but it also looks like it’s been hacked, broken into, and manipulated by a few individuals who have demonstrated that they have access to something that no one outside of RIM has ever had access to.
Guess what operating system RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones are going to run? The same one that was jailbroken, opening up the possibility that forthcoming smartphones and tablets from Research In Motion will be subject to the same cat and mouse game that jailbreakers play with Apple. This means that the security of a BlackBerry will not ever be the same as long as someone out there is able to exploit a vulnerability in RIM’s BBX operating system, and as far as I know, apps aren’t sandboxed at all like they are on iOS. Not all apps are encrypted (aside from what, Password Keeper?), so once you root the device, you have access to all of the data on that BlackBerry product — a concept that enterprise and government BlackBerry clients will not be happy about. In fact, I’d venture on to say that this is probably the biggest threat to RIM right now if this turns out to be true. For RIM’s enterprise and government customers to be thinking about the fact that the upcoming phones and devices could be unsecure, is a big, big deal.