BlackBerry maker warns on security vulnerability

Wed Jun 3, 2009 6:11pm EDT
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By Jim Finkle and Diane Bartz

BOSTON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd has issued a security patch for the popular device, whose users include U.S. President Barack Obama, warning that it is vulnerable to attacks by hackers.

Research in Motion issued the security warning last week in a bulletin on its web site, but officials could not be reached to comment on details of the patch.

If the patch is not applied, security experts said, there is a risk that hackers could exploit the vulnerability, though they have not done so yet.

Such problems are not unique to Research in Motion. Technology companies constantly battle to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated hackers. Every time a vulnerability is identified, there is potential for hackers to exploit it.

"It is a serious problem. You need to read the advisory and implement a fix before the hackers try to take control," said Graham Cluley, a senior researcher with anti-virus software marker Sophos.

When companies publicize security flaws, criminals rush to exploit them because it can take weeks or months for users learn of such problems and protect against them.

Businesses often hold off on installing patches so they can test them to make sure that the new software is compatible with other programs in their network. Sometimes a patch can cause other types of software to malfunction.

The newly disclosed vulnerability could allow hackers to take control of servers running BlackBerry systems by sending emails with tainted attachments in Adobe Systems Inc's PDF format, according to computer security researchers.   Continued...

<p>Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive of Research In Motion (RIM), holds the new Blackberry Bold handset during its launch in Mumbai September 18, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe(INDIA)</p>