December 22, 2014 weblog
BlackBerry rides with Boeing on self-destruct phone
The news from Reuters on Friday came as no shock to those who know Blackberry's strong rep for security (John Chen, the company's CEO, is not shy about promoting the company's branding message of safety. "Don't be fooled by the competition's rhetoric claiming to be more secure or having more experience than BlackBerry," he has asserted.) The aerospace company Boeing, which communicates with government agencies, decided to build a high-security smartphone of its own based on Android and is now tapping the security tech strengths of Blackberry's BES 12 solution to enhance Boeing's design. On Friday, in a conference call to discuss his company's quarterly results, Chen said that BlackBerry is working with Boeing "to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform." Boeing's self-destructing smartphone is called the Boeing Black. The phone provides secure communication among government agencies and partners working on matters related to defense and national security.
According to Bloomberg, Andy Lee, a Boeing spokesman, said in a phone interview that the companies were "pursuing a number of opportunities" that would pair the Boeing device with BlackBerry's server. Reuters said Boeing has already begun offering the phone to potential customers. The Boeing Black phone, if messed with, will self-destruct. What does self-destruct really mean? Jonathan Feist in Android Authority said there are functions built into the unit that can trigger "a full data wipe and software lockdown, a self-destruct protocol."
Also, the Boeing Black device encrypts calls to keep data and calls secure. Feist said the Black phone offers full encryption of voice and data using Boeing's PureSecure architecture. Bloomberg said the PureSecure architecture is a multilayered security system created for mobile devices.
The BlackBerry BES 12 platform will be put to use. BES stands for BlackBerry Enterprise Service, which consolidates and routes traffic through a single port. Cross-platform BES allows customers to manage and secure their BlackBerry devices on internal networks, and also can run on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. With BES12, the customer gets a "command and control center" and this goes down well for security-minded agencies and businesses. The Reuters report said that the phone uses dual SIM cards for access to multiple cell networks. Also, the phone can be configured to connect with biometric sensors and satellites.
What, if anything, does the Boeing-Blackberry effort have to do with the mainstream smartphone marketplace? Nick Mediati in PCWorld on Saturday ventured to look ahead: "Although Boeing and BlackBerry designed its phone with governments in mind, it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect smartphone makers to try and bring similar 'self-destruct' security mechanisms to consumer-level devices."
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