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August 30, 2017

Security Central to New BlackBerry Strategy

President Trump has become famous for his prolific tweeting. And he seems more than happy to share his thoughts with anybody willing to listen.

This is in stark contrast to President Obama, whom was much more measured in the way he communicated. He worked through the regular channels to get his messages out. Instead of using an Android or Apple smartphone, he spent much of his administration communicating via BlackBerry.

That’s not because Obama, whose campaign famously leveraged social media to connect with young voters, was behind the times in terms of technology. Rather it was because of security concerns related to communicating on other mobile devices, as Forbes noted in a piece last summer.

All of this is interesting to note in light of BlackBerry’s efforts to reinvent itself as a licensing company as opposed to a device manufacturer. The company reportedly plans to license its own version of the Android OS. It apparently plans to white-label it, so OEMs can put their own brands on it. But, more importantly, it will deliver to those OEMs such BlackBerry security features like DTEK.

Security has always been top of mind for BlackBerry, as noted in this June 2016 MUO story. The piece points out that despite the rise of Android and iOS devices, some business and government users have stuck with their BlackBerry devices:

“…probably the biggest reason is because BlackBerry devices have a much-deserved reputation for security,” the article says. “Throughout its history, people have trusted BlackBerry phones in the way they haven’t Android devices, Palm Pilots, and even iPhones.”

Even in the early days, the story noted, BlackBerry secured emails against man in the middle attacks; allowed IT departments to remotely administer devices, so they could be disabled if lost or stolen; and made it easy to deploy multiple mobile devices at one time.

The piece also noted BlackBerry offers an Android-powered smartphone called the BlackBerry Priv. “Just like its predecessors, it has an incredible emphasis on security,” MUO reports. “This goes as low-level as the supply chain, where each device is ‘signed’ with a digital key, to prevent tampering. Modifications to the Address Space Layout Randomization and SELinux make it harder for malware to exploit vulnerabilities in Android. Also included is an app called DTEK, which passively monitors the device for any suspicious behavior.”

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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