Photo from BlackBerry
Photo from BlackBerry

BlackBerry has a new chief security officer. The company appointed David Kleidermacher to the role this week.

It’s a landmark appointment for the beleaguered firm, which parted company with former senior VP of BlackBerry Security Scott Totze last year. That the firm took so long to fill the position shows its commitment to getting security right.

BlackBerry may have had its problems over the last few years, but it has typically had a strong security story. One of the reasons that it originally sold so well into the enterprise market was because people trusted its secure ecosystem. BlackBerry devices connect to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which manages encrypted messages securely.

More recently, the firm has taken steps to bolster its security capabilities. Last July, it bought SecuSmart, a German company that focuses on encrypting voice communications. Then, in September, it bought Morvirtu. That company offers a virtual SIM card, which stops people having to use two different SIMs when using the phone for work and personal roles, for example.

David Kleidermacher BlackBerry CSO
David Kleidermacher

BlackBerry has invested a lot in separating personal and business data on its devices. The firm offers a feature called BlackBerry Balance, which uses dual filesystems for work and personal apps.

In October, it bolstered its security position by appointing Michael Daniels to its board. Daniels is another person with a strong security background. He was the chair of Network Solutions, until it was acquired by VeriSign, and is now the chair of cybersecurity firm Invincea.

Kleidermacher’s credentials make him well suited for a particular section of BlackBerry’s business, though. He comes from Green Hills Software, where he was chief technology officer. That company produced real time operating systems, and Kleidermacher is an expert on embedded systems. This ties into BlackBerry’s renewed focus on the Internet of Things, which the firm feels well-prepared for with its QNX software.  The firm emphasised the executive’s IoT expertise in a blog post, welcoming him on board.

In April, the company will ship its BlackBerry IoT Platform, which will focus on automotive and asset tracking applications before expanding out into areas like healthcare and energy.

Will all this be enough to curry favour among CIOs, though? The company, which suffered huge financial losses in the last couple of years and recently dismissed reports that Samsung was considering an acquisition, still has some work to do. Morgan Stanley analyst James Faucette surveyed enterprise customers last month, and found that more CIOs were choosing not to buy its software.

BlackBerry has attempted to tempt CIOs back with its latest version of BES, v 12. This allows enterprises to manage older versions of its handsets. It is also moving towards a subscription-based model for the software, on a per-device pricing arrangement, which it hopes will hopefully draw customers back into the fold.



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