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With Workspaces, BlackBerry Keeps its Most Sensitive Data Close to its Chest

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At a Glance

A major credit union suffers a data breach impacting more than 2.9 million people and businesses, the result of an internal bad actor1. A now-defunct law firm loses more than 11 million documents detailing privileged client-attorney information, representing the largest data leak in history2 .78.8 million unencrypted patient records are stolen from a major healthcare provider3. More than 540 million Facebook records are found, exposed and unencrypted, after being collected by two third-party organizations4.

We live in an era where an organization’s cybersecurity efforts can no longer stop at its walls. An era in which files containing everything from customer data to confidential product information are shared freely in the name of collaboration. An era where even if your own security is ironclad, you could suffer a data breach at the hands of a disgruntled employee or a careless vendor.

The solution isn’t the enforcement of more draconian security controls. That achieves nothing save stymying productivity and frustrating employees. The right path to dealing with this new ecosystem is to implement security that travels with your files – a platform that allows data to be shared freely and minimizes the risk that data will be leaked or compromised.

A platform such as BlackBerry® Workspaces®. A secure content collaboration platform that allows users to share, edit, and access their files across any device, BlackBerry Workspaces is designed to keep businesses in control of their files no matter where they end up. A tool designed to enable file sharing without sacrificing security.

And it’s a solution we trust to protect our own information as surely as it protects the data of our clients.

The Meaning of “Secure”

BlackBerry has always maintained a strong reputation for security. We have always prioritized the privacy of our customers and the integrity of their systems and data. Security has always been in our DNA, and we’ve always strived for innovation.

Because the simple fact is that if businesses are to keep their people, systems, and data safe, they need to be forward thinking. As the world moves inexorably towards the Internet of Things, businesses must seek new solutions, platforms, and expertise. It was this drive that first led us to seek out and acquire the secure file sharing platform which acts as the foundation of BlackBerry Workspaces.

“Before BlackBerry Workspaces, we primarily used Box for file sharing and managed our internal records through LiveLink,” explains Jeff McDonald, Senior Director of BlackBerry’s Network Operations Center (NOC). “Both tools were challenging from a security perspective, as neither really had digital rights management or any of BlackBerry Workspace’s advanced capabilities.”

“We share a great deal of sensitive information both internally and externally,” he continues. “In the NOC’s case, we distribute root cause analyses to customers under NDA via our support organization. BlackBerry also shares a great deal of information during M&A activities, with BlackBerry Workspaces further seeing extensive use in both our legal and finance departments.”

The Need for Better File Controls

From a security perspective, we live in troubling times. Ransomware has never been more prevalent, with an attack occurring roughly every 14 seconds5 . Supply chains have become almost irreducibly complex. Files containing everything from customer data to product blueprints to financial information are now shared extensively between vendors and business partners. At any point in that chain, something could go wrong.

Amidst this environment, BlackBerry recognized an opportunity. We saw what the file sharing solution could already do. We saw its potential to be a valuable part of our portfolio.

And we saw that it could also be an invaluable addition to our own infrastructure.

“The problem,” McDonald explains, “is that our root cause analysis documents often contain critical information or data about our services. They might explain how we’ve mitigated an issue or provide details about our infrastructure we don’t want made public. We need to make sure they’re traceable, and that we have a means of preventing them from being shared with unauthorized parties.”

This was, says McDonald, one of the reasons BlackBerry ultimately decided to treat BlackBerry Workspaces not just as a solution for clients, but to start using it ourselves. We needed a way to know with confidence that privileged information was only shown to those with the right to see it. We needed a means of distributing sensitive documents in a way that was auditable, traceable, and revocable.

BlackBerry Workspaces provided that and more.

Ultimately, the NOC wants to provide a level of transparency to our premium customers – to give them clear insights so they can make the appropriate business decisions on their end. Using BlackBerry Workspaces to share that information allows us to do so, while also establishing a baseline of security that keeps with our reputation and prevents that information from being leaked.

Jeff McDonald, Senior Director, BlackBerry Network Operations Center

More Than Due Diligence

After the decision was made to use BlackBerry Workspaces internally, the NOC worked closely with developers on the deployment. Our implementation took approximately two months and included a transition to a new cloud platform in the interest of better availability. The platform was configured so that all BlackBerry employees could access it – and it has since seen widespread use across the organization.

The NOC uses it to actively sync information and promote better internal coordination. Because it’s also responsible for maintaining both BlackBerry Workspaces and the infrastructure that supports it, McDonald and his team have a unique perspective on the platform.

“Because we’re both users and administrators of BlackBerry Workspaces, we’re able to provide the kind of robust monitoring and support we offer with all our services – both for internal users and customers,” explains McDonald. “It also makes distribution of root cause documents both simpler and more secure. We can guarantee the appropriate customers receive the appropriate information, and we can share things extremely quickly while still maintaining data integrity and confidentiality.”

“Files cannot be shared with unauthorized parties, and we can quickly revoke access to a document once it is no longer required,” McDonald continues. “This data is secured in the cloud, and files can be synced with multiple devices without needing to VPN in. That’s a huge plus from a usability perspective – we don’t have to rely on files stored on local machines, which also helps with version control.”

BlackBerry Workspaces has also been instrumental where interactions with vendors, partners, and acquisition targets are concerned. Whether we’re forwarding product documentation to a third-party developer, a confidential press release to a marketing agency, or a legal contract to a new vendor, BlackBerry Workspaces helps us keep sensitive information from being distributed to the wrong people.

Regarding due diligence, rather than relying upon a data room solution for M&A activities, BlackBerry can ensure files are accessible to employees who need them at all stages of an acquisition. This not only streamlines the process considerably, but also helps to prevent data leaks through extensive access controls. Files from both sides of the negotiation can be shared efficiently and securely, and both sides retain total control over their data throughout.

“BlackBerry Workspaces gives us the capability from a disaster recovery and business continuity perspective to have our information always available to us,” explains McDonald.

Finally, we’ve taken measures to make BlackBerry Workspaces a valuable tool for legal frameworks like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Its digital rights management features along with its robust auditing functionality allows customers to demonstrate to auditors that they’re doing everything necessary for compliance. We also run and manage several distinct deployments of BlackBerry Workspaces globally, tweaking each one to better adhere to the regulatory climate of each region.

“We have instances of BlackBerry Workspaces running in Europe, Canada, the United Kingdom, Asia-Pacific and the United States, due to the different regulatory environments and data sovereignty requirements,” explains McDonald. “We’ve worked extensively to ensure BlackBerry Workspaces has the necessary mechanisms for policies and data governance, particularly around things like the GDPR’s Right to be Forgotten.”

Keeping Data Secure No Matter Where it Goes

In an era where everything is being connected to the Internet, file security is more challenging than it’s ever been. At the same time, the need for file-centric security controls has never been more pressing. Whether data is being shared internally between employees or with vendors and business partners, it cannot be left unmonitored – a company’s efforts to keep its information safe cannot stop at its own security perimeter.

That’s precisely why we use BlackBerry Workspaces to protect our own sensitive files, whether they’re product roadmaps, M&A plans, financial documents, or legal papers. Because we recognize that in the era of the Internet of Things, security perimeters no longer exist.

“We’re seeing more and more BlackBerry users across the organization adopt BlackBerry Workspaces for secure collaboration,” says McDonald. “Not only does it allow them to do their jobs better, it ultimately provides us with feedback around usability and enhancements that helps us further differentiate BlackBerry Workspaces from other solutions on the market.