BlackBerry unveils BBM Protected messaging feature

BlackBerry announced today that they are implementing a new security feature to their messaging system in an attempt to reinvigorate their position in the enterprise market. The new feature is called BBM Protected secure messaging. The software was announced to be part of it’s eBBM suite and is available to enterprise users straight away.

Any enterprise users with BlackBerry devices operating on BBOS 6.0 or the more recent Blackberry 10 in Regulated mode are currently able to use this new application. The application can be accessed via BlackBerry Balance. No official release date has been announced for the Android and iOS versions of BBM, though BlackBerry has stated support will come later this year.

This new feature works within the standard BBM application. It uses FIPS 140-2 cryptographic library-enabled messaging between both users in the same organization and users between multiple organizations. This means all messages sent through the BBM application will be protected more heavily. The feature will also work even if two senders are not running on the same BES server.

Messages will be encrypted using a Triple DES 168-bit BBM scrambling key. This will be used to encrypt to messages sent from one person and to decrypt received messages. The BBM head of product and brand marketing Jeff Gadway commented on how BBM Protected makes messages more secure than before.

He said, “The first time that two BBM Protected users go to establish a chat, they will be required to share a secret passphrase to authenticate their identities and generate the BBM Protected encryption key used to secure their chat.”

Blackberry stated on their website that BBM protected is added as an IT policy through the BES console. They emphasized that organizations will not need to purchase new hardware or install new servers to utilize BBM Protected. It is a quick add on to the existing service.

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