BlackBerry Pads Mobile Security Pedigree with Secusmart Acquisition


Bolstering its market-leading mobile security technology portfolio, BlackBerry announced an agreement to acquire Secusmart, a maker of anti-eavesdropping solutions for mobile communications that have been adopted by the German government and other organizations requiring snoop-proof security.

BlackBerry officials unveiled the transaction at the BlackBerry Security Summit, an all-day confab and technology showcase held July 29th in New York City that brought together business leaders, visionaries, experts and practitioners in the enterprise mobility industry.

Secusmart, founded in 2007 and headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany, provides BlackBerry with technology that delivers ultra-secure voice and data encryption capabilities in a manner transparent to end users – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We built, together with BlackBerry, the very best smartphone in the world,” said Secusmart founder and CEO Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle. “Our goal is to get them in the hands of every president and chancellor.”

IP Interception

With voice communications moving from TDM to IP networks, collecting and transcribing voice calls no longer presents a significant technological challenge, said Quelle, citing the recent interception of a voice call involving US State Department officials. By matching Secusmart’s anti-eavesdropping technology with BlackBerry’s end-to-end security solution, Quelle says the two companies can cover the entire spectrum of secure communication requirements.

Secusmart devices, added Quelle, are not just for government officials or agencies. The company also offers an enterprise-grade version of the technology. In recent years, Secusmart has extended its technology to include desk phones, as well as a variety of mobile platforms.

New Customers, such as NATO

Secusmart has been a BlackBerry partner since 2009. The company’s anti-eavesdropping technology is embedded into a micro-SD card that is compatible with BlackBerry 10 devices. BlackBerry 10 phones equipped with its technology are used by the German government, including Chancellor Merkel, who personally relies on a Q10, according to multiple online accounts.

NATO headquarters will also soon be using Secusmart-enabled BlackBerry devices, Quelle announced at the summit.

BlackBerry, Secusmart, NATO, voice and data encryption, BES, EMM, Angela Merkel

Mission critical NATO communications depend on Secusmart voice and data encryption.

Cyber Spying

A spike in interest from government officials and private citizens, as well as corporations, for highly secure communications, peaked with recent revelations of rampant state-sponsored cyber surveillance activities, as well as disclosures of industrial espionage carried out by government and private entities.

Though no security is 100% hack proof, Secusmart executives claim that the technology uses encryption technology that would require a supercomputer roughly 149 billion years to crack.

The major achievement of the technology, says Quelle, is the ability to deliver hyper-secure communications in a manner transparent to end users. “We develop the only approved security solution where a smartphone is still a smartphone,” he added, contrasting Secusmart devices with products that must be dedicated to secure communications activities. “Security and social networks in one phone – this is really unique.”

Positive Industry Reaction

Independent analyst Jack Gold rated the pending acquisition as positive for BlackBerry.

“With this buy, BlackBerry is applying more focus to the needs of its core loyal customers in the highly security-conscious markets, particularly in worldwide government agencies where BlackBerry still has a very large installed base,” wrote Gold in a note circulated to the media. “With Secusmart, which has primarily been used to enhance BlackBerry devices, BlackBerry can now state it has a much higher level of secured communications than any other standard smartphone platform in the world.”

The announcement also attracted considerable attention from the media and social channels.

From an online eWeek article:

“The Secusmart deal could be viewed as the epitome of the new BlackBerry under CEO John Chen. The brand repeatedly referred to by analysts as the industry standard in security is closing up the last wormhole to offer the absolutely most secure solution possible to the handful of regulated industries it’s now focusing on most aggressively.”

An online account of the BlackBerry Security Summit from ZDNet characterized the Secusmart acquisition as highlighting “how BlackBerry is doubling down on the enterprise as well as mobile security.”

Though the transaction requires regulatory approval, Quelle is confident that the pairing will plug the current gap of availability of a viable solution for protecting sensitive voice, data and messaging communications.

“BlackBerry and Secusmart will change this now forever,” he said. “We’re the perfect match.”

About Joe McGarvey

An Enterprise Mobility Strategist at BlackBerry, McGarvey has covered the enterprise and telecommunications industries for more than 20 years as both a journalist and analyst. He is best-known as a long-time principal analyst at leading market research firm Current Analysis. McGarvey has also been an analyst for Heavy Reading and an editor at several leading technology magazines.

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