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Hands-on with Secusmart voice encryption on BlackBerry 10

By Adam Zeis on 29 Jul 2014 05:16 pm EDT
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Earlier today, BlackBerry announced the acquisition of Secusmart — a company that provides high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for organizations and enterprises. The addition of Secusmart will bring this encryption to BlackBerry devices, allowing users to make totally encrypted voice calls from their mobile devices.

During the BlackBerry Security Summit in NYC, we got a quick demo of Secusmart in action using a BlackBerry Z30 and BlackBerry Q10. Inside the devices is a special smart-chip microSD card that allows for the encrypted calls to work, and users enter a password on both ends when initiating and receiving a call.

The calls run through the standard BlackBerry 10 dialer, a user just needs to choose to make a secure call. After entering a password, the call is initiated. When connected, the call will show that it's secure on the phone screen.

Check out the video above to see Secusmart in action, and drop a comment letting us know what you think!

Reader comments

Hands-on with Secusmart voice encryption on BlackBerry 10

161 Comments

Security is like oxygen: you tend not to notice it until you lose it. And when you lose it, you think about it all day.

Drooling for BlackBerry Passport!

So true. It is hard to get people to understand the need for it. They are like children in that they must experience it for themselves before they will listen. "Don't touch that open flame, it will hurt you." But they do it anyway.

Look at Germany. They went with non-BlackBerry phones. They learned like a child and now begin moving back to BlackBerry.

Posted via CB10

When can consumers and/or prosumers like myself be able to be first in line for it?

Via the best damn virtual keyboard in existence....The BlackBerry Z30 Everybody!

I am sure there is a lot of R&D that has gone into making this technology, which is why BB is shelling out some money to acquire it. Each of these devices costs really high (~$2,000) and it's geared towards a very niche market. Not everyone really needs that level of security and is certainly to not going to pay that kind of money.

Well blackberry is focusing on their entreprise en government market so they need to be able to do such thing which is great. As consumers we don't need that level but they can adapt for consumers.

Posted via CB10

Unless all their contacts also have Secusmart-enabled BB's, it won't help much. If they do have them, then BlackBerry needs to focus more on this "enterprise vertical". :P

I would imagine, yes, BBM Voice and Video need to be locked down in order to be part of the BBM Protected Suite, and this would be the tool to do it. Upgrade for an upgraded price =recurring service revenues!

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

Yes, that would be a great revenue stream that makes sense and locks BBRY in as the Premier Security mobile service provider.
Offer levels of security packages for market segments to choose from. Text, Voice, Video all or a combination of any through BBRY and NOT A CARRIER offering.

Posted via CB10

You don't need to wear a tin foil hat to be concerned about privacy and security.

Posted via CB10

Actually regular BBM has encryption inside, its still the most secure messaging on earth. E-BBM and SecuSUIT add an extra layer of protection.

Drooling for BlackBerry Passport!

Hahahaha remember the back and forth "fight" that Chen had with that Blackphone CEO?... I think Chen realized it's better to sucker punch him with this than reply to his pathetic excuse of a phone that he was bragging about making secure phone calls LMAO

One word... OWNED!!!

Posted via CB10

So they announce Blackphone and BlackBerry stock goes down but when BlackBerry reestablished itself as the security leader with this acquisition BlackBerry stock goes down.

Huh?

Oh, and there was an upgrade from Wells Fargo today - another reason for it to go down....

But no manipulation in the stock market whatsoever.

Founding Member of "Club Z30 "..... the most exclusive club in mobile

Agree, both media and markets act in a very irrational way when it comes to Blackberry. I see huge potential with this deal. It was one more time to buy Blackberry today on the dip. I think last year the previous management did huge damage to Blackberry brand and credibility. Ford switching to iPhones from Blackberry had the market and media bashing Blackberry again. Also, shorts believing in doom and gloom for Blackberry with IBM-Apple deal didn't help.

Ford swapping 3 to 6,000 units is a big downer but if BlackBerry announced selling same quantity what comments would follow?

Z30 144GB

Checked my local Telstra store today, they have removed the BlackBerries from the display now.

I asked him about an upgrade and showed him my Q10 ("Merkelphone"), asked him about the Passport.... clueless....

Kinda pitiful... :-)

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

When you make an acquisition, the acquiring company stock normally falls and the acquired company increases in value. This is because there is a dip in cash for the company. Once everything is finally completed, the stock slowly creeps back up. BlackBerry did not disclose the amount paid for the company. The patents that securesmart has is valuable and can be integrated into the device OS.

Posted via CB10

An upgrade from Wells Fargo should have offset your theory....the sick thing about it, is that, some thought that BlackBerry was going to be announced to be sold at this affair in NY today.

That's why the squealy oriental gal on Bloomberg opened with that as a question in her interview with Chen yesterday.

Founding Member of "Club Z30 "..... the most exclusive club in mobile

@freddysrevng3...life stinks,and WS wants to keep that in BB's mind no matter how good they are .Better off de-listing BBRYon Nasdaq and get on with tackling the Globe and Mail,in Canada haha.. Once they start making money the stock will rise substantially.I read today that Chen is going to start hiring again.It's all good.

any way I called it today on an earlier article that the stock would tank and close at 9 and change,just because of the good news ,it never fails.

@ Jojo....because real news from BlackBerry is never good enough for Wall Street..... BBRY goes up on stupid rumors and Vaporware - at least, until Chen starts putting up some profits and good numbers.

Which I suspect we will get a glimpse of when we see Z3 sales numbers around the world for this past quarter.

Founding Member of "Club Z30 "..... the most exclusive club in mobile

Honestly, it's a bad idea to try to tie stock movements to any specific piece of news. I'm not concerned about the slight downside today, and in fact I'm not really worried about much of anything until it's time for the next earnings report.

Analysts get paid to make stock move. The direction of the movement doesn't mater. Call it short or call it long, they both make money. If the stock does not move then no one makes any money. It's all just a game.

Posted via CB10

So, calls are currently not secure for enterprise users? Why does one have to enter a password - can't all calls be secured?

Posted via CB10

Maybe the pin/password is to verify that the person making or receiving the call is who they say they are. Otherwise anyone could possibly pick up a phone and answer a secure call. Just a theory... maybe there's a more technical reason.

I'm pretty sure the pins are only to unlock the work perimeter on the phone. Presumably if the work perimeter was already unlocked, there night not be a need for this step.

No, I'm pretty sure the pin is required per call, to ensure the identity of the call originator and receiver for security, auditing and liability purposes.

Posted via CB10

If using it requires a card, the solution is vulnerable to physical attacks. BlackBerry would do well to embed it within the phone chipset.

Posted via CB10

I believe the chipped sd card is to enable on existing devices, while future devices will have chip embedded. But I could be wrong

That would be the logical course of action. But alas..BlackBerry doesn't have the best track record with logical decisions.

Posted from my TARDIS!

You'd still need the password. It is two factors. You'd need the card in your possession and you'd need to know the password.

Posted via CB10

Most likely the card itself is useless without the password, and it's also likely that it matches itself with the hardware, so that taking it out of obe phobe and putting it in a different phone would make it useless also.

OMG! an Adam Zeis siting!!!!

miss you dude on CrackBerry, great job on Connectedy.

this is a great acquisition by BlackBerry can't wait to see what it evolves to in the future.

Why can't they make this available to regular consumers? There is no law that says we have to be spied on! I don't need it but I want it. I do not want anyone to be able to listen in on my calls for any reason period.

Posted on my Z30

Video mentioned that future iterations would be available as software solutions through BES and BBM voice. We'll have to wait and see how those services might be priced for consumers if at all.

Posted while peeking and flowing on my incredible BBQ10! 

This is when it might be good to have a fingerprint scanner on the phone, instead of having to punch in a code, scan your finger. Maybe BlackBerry will make a phone and copy Motorola's Atrix just like Apple did.
I know i am probably a minority but it would be nice to have on my BB10 device.

You don't want a fingerprint. That is a marker that when converted to digital format and then hacked has some nasty repercussions. You can change a card, you can change a pin but it's a b*tch to change your fingerprint.

From my z30

No point in securing the transfer of voice or data when attackers can just walk right onto your phone to access it.
So, no, not really.

That's great, I am sure that this will strength BBY to dominate the market in governmental services and big companies!
It can be also marginally good for them because I had somewhere read that this encryption costs such as 2.000 euro per devise.

Sent from my Z 30

Pretty sure 2000 euros to not have Barry's henchmen listening in on Angela Merkel's conversations is worth it.

Founding Member of "Club Z30 "..... the most exclusive club in mobile

I know this may sound stupid but I have question, does that article tell me that when I dial now from BlackBerry it's not secure?

Sent from my BlackBerry q5 at Vodafone Greece

A phone call is a phone call. Anyone with the right equipment and inclination can intercept one of your calls, but if it's encrypted, they won't be able to understand it.

Z10STL100-2/10.2.1.3247 O2 UK

BlackBerry to this day had secure data transmission (messages) through any Blackberry device. BES ads extra layer of security by separating all transmission from public networks and sent through END-END blackberry owned network. also BES ads several level of encryption for messages based on enterprise customer's requirement.

But with the secusmart, BlackBerry will not only encrypt message transmissions, but also the voice transmission and the data stored on the device itself. regular consumers dont really need this type of encryption at all, unless you want to remain hidden for some reason ;)

There is an app in BB world called "seecrypt" performs a similar function for the everyday user. Works similar. Each person buys the app for $30. Voice is encrypted and messages. Maybe not to these specs but for the average person/small business, could be a go to.

I imagine there could be an app based "good enough for most of us" consumer grade encryption of voice that could be a follow on business service for consumers. I can see it now.....!

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

@ Q10 Bold: Go to BlackBerry World and enter in the search box, "seecrypt". It's free to download and try. Then, it costs each user $3.00 per handset/month to use. They do have an option of paying for one year at U.S $ 30, annually. Hope it helps!

There is also another app called cellcrypt. The app is free, but the service costs about £3000 I think. It's for a 5 year license. Encrypts both text and voice. FIPS 140-2 certified.

Kevin !!!!! are you there , helloooo . lol . Adam said he will get SecuSmart card with BB when he gets a BETTER job. he is trying to say his current job sucks ;)

Is about time for the people to see that security is important and only BlackBerry can take care of it.

Posted via CB10

If this solution uses the SD card slot, does that mean I can't store anything on thr SD card if I use this? So all pictures, socuments, music have to be saved on the device's 16 GB of internal?

My understanding is that the card also encrypts the norm data you would store on your SD card.
Encrypts voice calls and stored data.

Posted via CB10

Possibly, but this is $2000 and meant for government types and big businesses where storing media of other kinds is either not important or not allowed. Perhaps I'm the future IF this becomes standard on all bb devices it may be built right into the phone? It's way too early to know but for know this type of thing is meant for high level government and BIG enterprise business. Unless you want to shell out 2gs and have your friends do the same.

Hopefully in time this technology will somehow trickle down to end consumer users.

Posted via CB10

Maybe BlackBerry bought it just to release the encryption keys to every country who wants it, the way they did before. I usually get banned for "trolling" when all I'm really saying is that BB isn't secure and they gave up any right to be trusted a long time ago. I posted a reputable article on this and was promptly banned.

You are no more secure on a BlackBerry than any other phone. You used to be. But BlackBerry sold out. If I didn't care about the company I wouldn't be so disappointed.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120803/04004219923/desperate-rim-giv...

BlackBerry WAS the world leader in security. Even the NSA was worried about BlackBerry. Not any longer.

Buy a BlackBerry for any reason you want. But don't buy one for security.

OK. Ban me now. I'm such a troll.

Z30 / STA100-5 / 10.2.1.3247 / T-Mobile USA

I wouldn't say you're are troll. You just didn't understand the whole situation that went down with Pakistan. If that's what you're referring to? I got a security warning when I tried to go to your link.

How ironic. (not really ironic, I know but still)

Posted via CB10

Blackberry has never released BES encryption keys to anyone. They are unique to each organisation.

Posted via CB10

Price?
Consumer availability?
Does SD card have encrypted storage too? If yes how much space?

The new BlackBerry. Ahead of the curve.

I'm nowhere near important enough to need SecuSmart's product, but it looks like it's seamlessly integrated with BlackBerry 10, and it just looks bad ass.

This is excellent news for BlackBerry and for the world at large with the possible exception of the NSA who will undoubtedly hate it.

Posted via CB10

Take what exactly?

Consider this just a 'business as usual' move for BlackBerry.

My guess is that BlackBerry is going after the other 16,000 German Government devices that are to be added, and this buyout ensures just that.

No doubt, it sets a bar for other G20 countries to follow, so the domino e effect is in motion.

Although they've been working with Secusmart for quite some time, I think they bought it to keep someone else from buying it.

Adam, thanks for the video on how this implementation works. However, you need to take your journalism a bit more serious and not having to look for words to describe what you are about. Your introduction ended a bit weak and not convincing about BlackBerry and the product that you were about to analyse. Even your conclusion was not on par. On the fly, you need to come up with the information seeking questions that educate your audience or you should have written a few questions before going in.

I know you can do better. Other than that, I am interested in a provision for customers as oppose to CXOs and government officials.

I liked when he said that it will integrated into BBM voice... so there are plans to make it available to consumers!

Posted via CB10

So from what I heard in the video, I would be lead to believe that they currently have 2 levels of security offerings and will be offering a 3rd level now that they are part of the BlackBerry family: level 1 being that NATO exclusive with the SD encryption chip, level 2 for corporate level (did I mis-hear him or did it sound like that level didn't need the SD card?), and level 3 being eventual integration with BBM Voice for consumers. That last one would obviously have a central set of keys within BlackBerry (maybe a few hundred or few thousand?) for situations that involve a warrant, but it would still be pretty cool in my personal opinion. Makes me wish more companies had a desire to keep our conversations more secure.

Posted by my Z30 via CB10

Now I have same questions :
1. Is this a VoIP only solution which works with BES only?
2. Is there a solution for the cellular network?
3. If this works only through BES, then why we need the SD card since the communication with BES is already encrypted. Am I missing something?

Posted via CB10

I know that BES encrypts data and I asked because I thought it was a voip solution and voip=data.
If it works on cellular, then why the presenter said that you can either have encrypted voice to the enterprise or end-to-end.
The key word is the “to the enterprise“ this is why I got confused.
Maybe it uses the BES to exchange the keys and the voice goes over the cellular?

Posted via CB10

this is great for blackberry! How strong is the encryption on @secusmart?
I know they have PGP available to secure your emails, but not quite sure if it's available on BB10.
I know PGP is military grade, and also uses authentication and digital signatures. But only works for emails.
I guess it's not bad at the fraction of the price.

Posted via CB10

Pertaining to you question as to how secure it is, I pulled this right from their website

"The smart card enables 340 sextillion keys for encryption purposes – it would take ca. 149 billion years to crack this code."

LOL that's a long time. This is also from their site.

"The miniature computer integrated into the micro-SD card contains the NXP SmartMX P5CT072 crypto-controller with a PKI coprocessor for authentication. An additional high-speed coprocessor encrypts voice and data communication using 128 bit AES. AES is considered the most secure and efficient algorithm for the symmetric encryption of data and voice communication."

Hope that helps.

So we already have this technology on our devices because BlackBerry was partnering with this company prior to its acquisition? I am using the Q10

Posted via CB10

Voice, data encryption and "eavesdropping" is not cheap either. If someone will do these things to you, they need to invest on (spying) you. And you must be "worthy" to be spied on e.g. politicians, CEO's, financial consultants, lawyer having sensitive cases, famous person in showbusiness or high profile person such as those drug lords, etc.

But if you are a regular guy, punching your card in & out and getting your salary every 15th day or at the end of the month and paying your taxes religiously , and just using your mobile to call your family, co-workers and friends, I don't think that you need to worry that someone will invest in spying on you. Anyway, it is still your prerogative if you want to believe that you are a very special person and that someone might be stalking on you and that you are willing to pay extra for tough security system as BlackBerry is offering.

Posted via CB10

That's fricken amazing! I'm not important enough to need it but none the less, very impressive!

Posted using the best phone ever, the Z30!

So did he say that a software version may be coming over to BBM Voice as a customer solution. Will that mean that I can get encrypted voice calls as I do with Skype? Doesn't BBM already do that? Interesting. I'm still wondering how secure are the consumer version of Blackberry devices and if we could obtain some of these security measure?

This is fantastic they should aim it at the mass market

Especially with apple being exposed for their lack of security will help the everyday standard user to hop aboard

Posted via CB10

Dumb that ford is giving up BlackBerry for iPhone.. they will see how dumb of a change that is just like other companies

Posted via BlackBerry z10!

Cannot wait to see it become part of blackberry 10. :D

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

It is very nice to hear about BBM protect and secusmart I am from India and a fortnight ago I had two visitors from the US.They were born here but have migrated to US.Both are highly qualified doctors & work for the US Govt ...one is into neurology and the other into research(NIH) needless to say security is paramount in their professions .I was surprised to hear that they use Samsung devices(they had not brought the devices to India).Does this say something about BBRY marketing?

Blackberry name stands out for security, this makes them all the more responsive to make this technology built in or the microchip should be part of every Blackberry smartphone which supports the technology.

Posted via CB10 on my Z30

I have little trust for my corrupt government here in the US. As a non-enterprise user, I would like to see a prosumer version of this that I can implement with my family and friends.

Posted via CB10

The integration is better than what I saw on Android, where a separate dialer and contacts app has to be used..., but I don't like the fact that all traffic goes through their servers... The P2P model of the competition is much better in that regard.
Hopefully, BlackBerry will make it available in BBM for everybody, not just for enterprises.

Pretty cool integration with the standard phone app/api.

Glad to hear that it will not require SD slot for consumer or enterprise users like me.

I am packing ZeeTen goodness...

BlackBerry should come out with a prosumer subscription package that gets you the security of BBM Protected and encrypted voice, maybe some other features, and let the carriers in on the action to help shore up their lost BIS service revenue. As long as it's an option for BB10, iOS, and Android they could make some decent money AND pump up their BBM user-base at the same time.

For blackberry purchasing secusmart is very smart indeed!

The Germans are now waking up to blackberry, and this acquisition of a german company is a wonderful way to play to your strength.

If the toughest lady in europe likes it... you had better like it also!

Posted via CB10