Unilever Secures Its Mobile Devices Computer Science Essay

Modified: 1st Jan 2015
Wordcount: 2669 words

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As a student of John Byrnes tutorials, I am doing the case study entitled “Unilever secures its mobile devices”. The primary objective of this assignment is to assess and analyze the impact wireless devices such as the BlackBerry mobile handsets are having on the company and how they are increasing productivity and performance. Another objective includes analyzing security features that Blackberry provides for its users, and what effect a security breach could have on this multi-national company. Last but not least, my objective is to make my own evaluations and make my own recommendations on what else could be done to improve this situation and also what else could be done to improve the performance of the company.

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Unilever is a multi-national company stretching across all the continents in the world such as Asia, Africa, The Americas and Oceania. They are well known for manufacturing brands such as Dove, Lux and Vaseline as personal hygiene products. They are also globally known for their food brands including Flora, Lipton and Streets. (Unilever, 2011).As a worldwide company, performance must be at their optimum levels to ensure operational excellence in the company. In March 2004, Unilever’s senior management ordered the company’s thousand top executives to be equipped with mobile handheld devices to increase their productivity. The company selected BlackBerry 7100, 7290, and 8700 handhelds from Research in Motion because they were the leader in their category and they worked with hetero- geneous e-mail servers and multiple wireless network standards, including CDMA and Wi-Fi. These handsets have allowed the executives to basically work on the move, and monitor the company’s performance such as sales figures. It has allowed them to check their emails, and reply to them on time. This handset also allowed the executives to talk more with the customers. As a result of the introduction of Blackberry handsets to the company; it has increased productivity and performance. This can be shown through the company’s 2005 annual report/review. The company’s turnover was $49,352,000,000 USD. This was an increase from their 2004 turnover by 1,608,000,000 USD. Another interesting statistic which was found in the 2005 charts was that their net profit margins increased by 2.4 % to 10% in 2005. The company’s net profit also slightly increased from $3,641,000,000 USD in 2004 to $ 4,945,000,000 USD in 2005. These figures can be used to show the affect that mobile handsets have had on the company’s performance.

I have attached the 2005 Unilever charts for a further understanding of the changes in the net profit margins and the net profit. For the net profit graph, the green line is the indicator for the US dollars and the light brown line in the profit margins graph is used to show the net profit margin changes. I have also included the turnover graph and the green line shows the turnover in USD.

A security breach at Unilever could cause severe damage to the company in the short term and long term. A security breach can be caused through many things, including through the hacking of the BlackBerry handsets and their company computers, or it can be caused of a simple error such as misplacing your phone or leaving it vulnerable to be stolen. The BlackBerry handsets and Unilever computers and laptops have sensitive data stored in them such as customer information and confidential company information. The loss of customer information may lead to the company to be sued by the customers. It is Unilever’s responsibility to ensure the protection of this data. Another danger is unauthorized users who are able to access corporate networks. This may lead to the introduction of computer viruses and worms. If this was to happen, all the information which was stored may be corrupted and destroyed. Such an event can severely cripple the company’s ability to perform, and may even force them out of business if they don’t have a backup system in place. The loss of confidential company information such as sales figures and sales forecasting data can result in a loss of revenue and allow competitors to use this information to a full extent to gain an upper advantage in the market. Finally, security breaches also have the capability to tarnish a companies’ reputation and put the business under scrutiny. So far, Unilever has not been affected by a security breach.

In 2004, the Unilever executives were equipped with BlackBerry handsets in a bid to increase the company’s performance. If the security measures are too harsh, then executives will not be able to use the device efficiently, which means that this will have a negative impact on the businesses ability to conduct business thoroughly. Using this example, a management factor that must be taken into consideration is that to make sure that the security policies and procedures don’t interfere with the company’s ability to do business. Both of these issues must be kept balanced. In this workplace, some executives know that they have a device which is linked with the company’s information and database and know what the impacts can be if the device gets into some unauthorized persons hands. On the other hand, there are executives who are not aware of the consequences this can have. Therefore, an organization factor that must be considered is the lack of knowledge. Many steps can be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen. Some steps may include offering a training program to the executives regarding the proper use of the BlackBerry handset and so forth. A technological factor that needs to be addressed is determining the specifications of the wireless handheld device required. These specifications must strike a balance between its security features, how user friendly the device is as well as its cost. Unilever determined that couple of BlackBerry models best suited their needs. Each company will have different needs and priorities. Management, organization and technological factors that need to be taken into consideration will be based on those needs and priorities.

BlackBerry Enterprise Solutions allows you to mobilize your workplace, your workers can make timely decisions based on the best information available, increasing their productivity and boosting your business performance. The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution allows mobile users to access communications and information wirelessly, including email and text messaging, corporate data and the organizer. It has provided Unilever with many benefits that include flexibility and lowest total cost of operation of mobile enterprise solutions. For flexibility, this solution supports all leading enterprise email platforms, back-end systems and applications from a wide range of vendors. It also allows you to manage multiple wireless network technologies, devices, messaging servers and enterprise systems with a single BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution allows organizations to keep their employees connected to the information and people that matter, while still benefiting from a low overall total cost of operation.This solution offers very good wireless data security and stored data security. For wireless data security, end to end encryption and rsa secur-id two factor authentications are used. In end to end encryption, the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution offers two transport encryption options, advanced encryption standard (aes) and triple data encryption standard (triple des), for all data transmitted between BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry smartphones. Private encryption keys are generated in a secure, two-way authenticated environment and are assigned to each BlackBerry smartphone user. Each secret key is stored only in the user’s secure enterprise account such as Microsoft Exchange and on their BlackBerry smartphone and can be regenerated wirelessly by the user. (Research In Motion, 2011),

Data sent to the BlackBerry smartphone is encrypted by BlackBerry Enterprise Server using the private key retrieved from the user’s mailbox. The encrypted information travels securely across the network to the device where it is decrypted with the key stored there. Data remains encrypted in transit and is never decrypted outside of the corporate firewall. Rsa secur-id two factor authentications provides organizations with additional authorization when users access application data or corporate intranets on their BlackBerry smartphones. BlackBerry mds Services (mobile data system) utilize rsa ace/agent authorization api 5.0 to interface to rsa ace servers. Users are prompted for their username and token passcode when navigating to a site or application requiring authorization. Other security features include https secure data access and code signing and digital certificates. (Research In Motion, 2011)

BlackBerry mds services act as a secure gateway between the wireless network and corporate intranets and the internet. They leverage the BlackBerry aes or Triple des encryption transport and also enable https connections to application servers. BlackBerry smartphones support https communication in one of two modes, depending on corporate security requirements: Proxy Mode: An ssl/tls connection is created between BlackBerry Enterprise Server and the application server on behalf of BlackBerry smartphones. Data from the application server is then aes or Triple des encrypted and sent over the wireless network to BlackBerry smartphones. End-to-End Mode: Data is encrypted over ssl/tls for the entire connection between BlackBerry smartphones and the application server, making end-to-end mode connections most appropriate for applications where only the transaction end-points are trusted. BlackBerry smartphones applications created using the BlackBerry java development environment (jde), which have certain functionality such as the ability to execute on startup or to access potentially sensitive BlackBerry smartphone application data, require developers to sign and register their applications with Research In Motion.This adds protection by providing a greater degree of control and predictability to the loading and behavior of applications on BlackBerry smartphones. Additionally, the BlackBerry signing authority tool can help protect access to the functionality and data of third party applications by enabling corporate developers or administrators to manage access to specific sensitive Application Programming Interfaces and data stores through the use of server-side software and public and private signature keys. To help protect BlackBerry mds Studio applications from tampering, corporate developers can sign an application bundle with a digital certificate. (Research In Motion, 2011)

They can use either a trusted certificate authority or a generated certificate. BlackBerry mds studio generates and signs applications with certificates that are in line with the public key infrastructure (X.509) standard. For stored data security, The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution extends corporate security to the wireless device and provides administrators with tools to manage this security. To secure information stored on BlackBerry smartphones, password authentication can be made mandatory through the customizable IT policies of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. By default, password authentication is limited to ten attempts after which the device’s memory is erased. Local encryption of all data (messages, address book entries, calendar entries, memos and tasks) can also be enforced via IT policy.

And with the Password Keeper, advanced encryption standard (aes) encryption technology allows password entries to be stored securely on the device. Additionally, system administrators can create and send wireless commands to remotely change BlackBerry smartphone passwords and lock or delete information from lost or stolen BlackBerry smartphones. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server Security also is a form of security. BlackBerry Enterprise Server does not store any email or data. To increase protection from unauthorized parties, there is no staging area between the server and the BlackBerry smartphone where data is decrypted. Security is further enhanced by allowing only authenticated, outbound-initiated connections through port 3101 of the firewall. No inbound traffic is permitted from sources other than the BlackBerry smartphone or the email server, meaning unauthorized commands cannot be executed on the system. Only communications that can be decrypted with a valid encryption key are permitted between the server and the wireless network. (Research In Motion, 2011)

The three pictures I have attached give a further insight as to how the security works.

( BlackBerry security,2011)

Flow diagram for end-to-end encryption

(BlackBerry security,2011).


(BlackBerry security,2011)


BlackBerry tools provide effective anti-virus protections for a BlackBerry deployment. They use containment methods that are designed to prevent malware that might gain access to the BlackBerry smartphone from causing damage to the BlackBerry smartphone, its applications and its data, and also to the corporate network. BlackBerry smartphone applications include inherent virus protection and spyware protection that is designed to contain and prevent the spread of viruses and spyware to other applications. Application controls are available on BlackBerry smartphones that are running on a BlackBerry Enterprise Server or on the BlackBerry Internet Service. BlackBerry smartphone users can use the application controls on their BlackBerry smartphones to prevent the installation of specific third-party applications and to limit the permissions of third-party applications. See the “BlackBerry Internet Service Security Feature Overview” for more information on using BlackBerry smartphone application controls to protect a BlackBerry smartphone running on the BlackBerry Internet Service against malware. (Research In Motion, 2011)

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The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution is designed to provide anti-virus protection through its malware protection. The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution includes tools that provide against all malware. Administrators can use IT policy and application control policies on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and BlackBerry smartphone users can use application controls on BlackBerry smartphones to contain malware by controlling third-party Java application access to BlackBerry smartphone resources and applications. (Research In Motion, 2011)

Finally, Unilever uses various mobile services in their current business operations. In 2010, Vodafone was selected as Unilever’s provider of all mobile communication needs. Various mobile services that are being used are mobile e-mail, sms texting (short message service) and mms (multi-media service), and also the basic phone call. Other mobile services include voicemail and just using integrated content such as calendars applications. All of these services are play crucial role in creating an agile and cost competitive organization that operates in a sustainable way. Unilever, using Vodafone’s information on trends in mobility, will slightly give them an upper edge and allow Unilever to develop innovative ways to stay closely connected with our consumers and customers. (Flash, 2011)

I personally think that the mobile handsets have had an effect on the company’s performance in a positive way. It has allowed more interaction with the customers and has allowed e-commerce to be done efficiently on the go.

WORDS : 2,282.


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