BBM Protected messaging feature unveiled by BlackBerry

Phone maker touts FIPS 140-2 crypto for super secret messages as it renews focus on enterprise

BlackBerry has beefed up the security of its BlackBerry Messenger service in a bid to shore up its enterprise business.

The firm announced its new BBM Protected secure messaging feature, within its eBBM suite, is now available to enterprise customers.

BlackBerry said the first product in the eBBM Suite, which was announced earlier this year, is being delivered ahead of schedule. BBM Protected will work within the standard BBM app.

The mobile messaging app uses FIPS 140-2 cryptographic library-enabled messaging not only between users within the same organisations but also between organisations that also use BBM Protected. They do not need to be on the same BES server and no federation between servers is required.

A Triple DES 168-bit BBM scrambling key encrypts messages on the sender's smartphone, and is used to authenticate and decrypt messages on the recipient's phone. 

Jeff Gadway, head of product and brand marketing for BBM, said BBM Protected adds an additional layer of encryption to the existing BBM security model.

"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," he said.

According to the firm's website, BBM Protected is added as an IT policy through the BES console. "There's no new hardware to purchase, no new servers to install, and no BlackBerry smartphone OS updates required. And with IT policy amalgamation, you can quickly add BBM Protected to existing IT policies," the firm said.

Business users with BlackBerry smartphones running BBOS 6.0 or later or BlackBerry 10 in Regulated mode can use the app now with versions of BBM Protected for BlackBerry 10 smartphones via BlackBerry Balance. Support for iOS and Android devices will come later this year.

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