BBM Protected Aimed Squarely at Protecting Blackberry’s Dwindling Enterprise Presence

by Matt Klassen on June 24, 2014

Although the days of Blackberry’s market dominance are a faded memory and the company now stands as a hollow shell of its former self, there is still one thing the Canadian still does very well: enterprise security. To that end, Blackberry has launched its latest security product, BBM Protected, the first of the companies planned secure enterprise-specific communications suite, which it claims is the only “secure mobile instant messaging app that uses a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic library.”

Much like the original BBM, the new Protected version will allow users to send secure messages to colleagues, competitors, friends, and family, so long as the recipient employs BBM Protected as well. Not only that, but Blackberry has shored up the weakness that contributed largely in the company’s original downfall, government access to localized Blackberry servers. With BBM Protected the company has removed key exchanges from its own servers, meaning that when government agencies once again come calling, Blackberry will have nothing to offer.

But even with enhanced next level mobile communication security, with Blackberry’s dismal market share one has to wonder if anyone will care. But as one analyst argues, would you rather have your corporate data running through a network that has capably handled encrypted enterprise information for more than a decade, or would you rather your most secure information was routed through a “South Korean consumer electronics company”?

Although the consumer market has largely left Blackberry behind, there is still a significant segment of the large enterprise sector that still needs highly encrypted, secure mobile communication, Carl Howe, a vice president at the Yankee Group, told the E-Commerce Times, and large enterprises still trust Blackberry to deliver it.

As E-Commerce writer Richard Adhikari succinctly explains, “Messages between users of BBM Protected are encrypted using a PGP-like model, with both the sender and recipient having unique public and private encryption and signing keys. Messages are encrypted on the sender’s smartphone by a Triple DES 168-bit BBM scrambling key, which also is used to authenticate and decrypt messages on the recipient’s phone…Each message uses a new random symmetric key for encryption. All this happens in the background, without involving the users.”

Further, given Blackberry’s struggles with several governments over access to the company’s secure BBM messages several years ago, the company’s latest encryption upgrades remove key exchanges from the company’s servers, making all the encryption and storage of security information happen within the BBM Protected app itself.

While admittedly Blackberry is no longer the mobile powerhouse it once was, under the leadership of CEO John Chen the company has found itself in the middle of a rebranding process, or rather, a rediscovery of what made the company successful to begin with. “With BBM Protected, BlackBerry is going back to its roots — the enterprise,” Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC, told the E –Commerce Times. “Because BBM is available on iOS and Android, BlackBerry’s extending BBM Protected to those OSes to make the feature more useful for enterprise customers.”

By focusing less on devices and more on its suite of communication and data management services, Blackberry may not be able to rebuild itself into what it once was, but the Canadian firm may actually be able to stave off its still largely inevitable demise for quite some time, at least until Apple and Samsung find a way to create their own secure enterprise-class messaging products, products that coupled with the ongoing BYOD movement in the enterprise sector will once again result in Blackberry on the outside looking in.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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