Blackberry joins Apple in gaining NSA approval for secure communications

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2017
BlackBerry has received approval from the National Security Agency (NSA) to sell tools for securing phone calls and text messages to the United States government, with the former smartphone producer joining Apple on the list of companies endorsed for federal government use.




The BlackBerry endorsement comes from the NSA's National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP), which reviews technology products sold to consumers and enterprise to see if they meet the security requirements for government usage, reports Reuters. This includes the encryption of calls and messages made between parties using the products, a function that prevents other parties, such as hackers and other countries, from eavesdropping potentially sensitive government communications.

One of the tools BlackBerry is now able to sell to US federal agencies is SecuSUITE for Government, software from the German encryption firm Secusmart owned by BlackBerry. SecuSUITE is a multi-platform service for iOS, Android, and Blackberry offering end-to-end encryption of calls and text messages, one which works regardless of the carrier or data connection used by participants.

BlackBerry acquired Secusmart and its technology in 2014, after the firm won a contract to secure Chancellor Angela Merkel's smartphone, following claims by a former US intelligence contractor that the NSA had tapped the German leader's communications. The following year, German prosecutors dropped the probe into the claims due to a lack of evidence.

While Germany remains its biggest customer, BlackBerry now lists government agencies in 20 countries in Europe, Latin America, southeast Asia, and Africa as SecuSUITE customers.

"Call tapping is happening at an alarming rate," according to BlackBerry SVP and general manager of mobility solutions Alex Thurber. "In today's connected world, restricting agency employees to only exchange classified information from the desk phone is no longer a viable option, but it could be the new reality if governments don't start securing calls and texts from mobile devices."

A number of Apple products are already endorsed by the NIAP, including iOS 9, iOS 9.3.5 with MDM (Mobile Device Management) Agent, and the iOS 9.2 VPN client. As of March 2017, both iOS 10.2 and the iOS 10 VPN client are undergoing evaluation by NIAP, and are likely to receive a similar stamp of approval in the future.

Apple's iPhone has also been deemed secure enough for presidential communications, with President Donald Trump using the smartphone to post to his Twitter account.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,707member
    Trumps iPhone isn’t considered to be secure. I don’t know where the writer got that info from. It’s not his “presidential” phone. That may be another iPhone that’s secured, or it may not be.
  • Reply 2 of 7
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Blackberry? Is it still relevant?
  • Reply 3 of 7
    nhtnht Posts: 4,463member
    fallenjt said:
    Blackberry? Is it still relevant?
    Very much relevant in some areas.  They purchased Good Technology and coupled with their existing BES portfolio they are one of the primary MDM players.  The top 5 players at the start of 2015 were Blackberry, Good, IBM, VMWare and SAP.  Then two most well known became one by the end of 2015.
  • Reply 4 of 7
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,707member
    nht said:
    fallenjt said:
    Blackberry? Is it still relevant?
    Very much relevant in some areas.  They purchased Good Technology and coupled with their existing BES portfolio they are one of the primary MDM players.  The top 5 players at the start of 2015 were Blackberry, Good, IBM, VMWare and SAP.  Then two most well known became one by the end of 2015.
    They’re around number three now, and sinking fast. MobileIron, and others have eaten their lunch.

    Good was on the way out when Blackberry bought them. A year before, they put themselves on the block, and were offered about $1.2 billion. The CEO said they were worth more, and didn’t accept the offer. A year later Blackberry buys them for $600 million. Blackberry’s Own software offerings were considered to be inadequate for iOS and Android. Good helped to fill it in. But the two were still fading then, and are still fading now. They had another terrible quarter last quarter.

    the entire MDM market, which now consists of that, and even more specialized software, such as EMM, and other types, is less than $1 billion in total. Not much of a market to be in.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 5 of 7
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,632member
    Cool. Now all they gotta do is sell some phones 
  • Reply 6 of 7
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,707member
    Cool. Now all they gotta do is sell some phones 
    That horse has left the barn. Now all they’ve got, after one more whimsical try, is an Asian manufacturer rebranding mid range Android phones as Blackberry.
  • Reply 7 of 7
    chipsychipsy Posts: 287member
    melgross said:
    Trumps iPhone isn’t considered to be secure. I don’t know where the writer got that info from. It’s not his “presidential” phone. That may be another iPhone that’s secured, or it may not be.
    Indeed that is his personal device, not the presidential one. The presidential phone is reported to be a Boeing Black which is a very heavily modified Android device. The device even self-destructs at the first signs of tampering. When it comes to the personal phone the president has some choice I believe. He can use for example an iPhone or a Samsung device with Knox (which is also NSA approved) or any other Android device with a custom NSA or DISA developed Android build on.
    edited July 2017
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