#CyberFLASH: BlackBerry launches cheaper Android smartphone

blackberry-dtek502.jpg.size.custom.crop.650x650Blackberry is a launching a new smartphone, the DTEK50, which it is billing as the world’s most secure Android phone.

A full touchscreen device, the DTEK50 runs Android Marshmallow 6.0 and promises to use BlackBerry’s expertise to allow users more control over security and privacy of their phones.

“We take our customers’ privacy seriously,” said Ralph Pini, BlackBerry’s chief operating officer, in a statement. “DTEK50 merges the unique security and connectivity features BlackBerry is known for with the rich Android ecosystem.”

The DTEK50, which is priced at $429, comes with a 5.2-inch full HD display, a micro-SD card slot that supports up to 2TB of added storage, a 13 MP rear camera and 8 MP on the front.

The name DTEK comes from an app that made it debut on the Priv, which allows users more control over what happens with the phone’s apps, with a security and privacy focus. There is a programmable key, a physical button on the device — a throwback to older products — which users can assign a function to, (for example, turning on the phone’s flash to use as a flashlight).

In terms of security, BlackBerry is pitching a full service ecosystem that starts with the company hardening the Android kernel (the basis of the phone’s software), rapid security patches for new malicious threats and a secure boot process that ensures your phone has not been tampered with since the last restart.

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#CyberFLASH:​ BlackBerry skirts RCMP decryption claims in privacy defence

image-3BlackBerry has released a statement defending its core corporate and ethical principles, saying it has been focused on protecting customer privacy.

In a blog post, BlackBerry executive chairman and CEO John Chen highlighted that BlackBerry’s guiding principle has been about doing what is right for its customers, within legal and ethical boundaries.

“We have long been clear in our stance that tech companies as good corporate citizens should comply with reasonable lawful access requests. I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good,” he said.

The statement released by Chen comes days after reports claiming the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) obtained BlackBerry’s master encryption key, which enabled the Canadian police to intercept and decrypt around 1 million messages used by BlackBerry’s proprietary messaging technology.

The court documents relating to a Montreal crime syndicate case revealed BlackBerry and cellular network Rogers cooperated with law enforcement.

While it’s unclear how RCMP gained access to BlackBerry’s encryption key, it is believed BlackBerry “facilitated the interception process”.

BlackBerry is long known to have used a master encryption key, used on every device to scramble messages. This gives the company access to all communications over its systems, and would permit it to hand over data to law enforcement when asked. But since the Edward Snowden revelations it was widely assumed that at least one of the Five Eyes governments colluding in mass surveillance — of which Canada is a member — had acquired the keys.

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#CyberFLASH: Fredericton company’s new app helps parents monitor kids’ driving

pdphonejpg-jpg-size-xxlarge-letterboxFREDERICTON — A new smartphone app means parents can now be backseat drivers to their kids, without having to leave home, and an Internet and privacy lawyer says its use raises some interesting questions.

Fredericton-based GeodeTech has released its GeodeVu tracking app that records a driver’s route along with driving behaviours, such as speeding, hard braking, and even distracted driving.

“We call our product a solution for driver analysis and behaviour coaching,” said Michel Chiasson, the company’s CEO.

“As you start driving around, what’s going to happen is you will see the true behaviours coming through,” he said.

The app can be downloaded for free on Android, iOS and Blackberry 10 phones, while the tracking service will cost you a monthly rate of $9.95.

The app uses the GPS and other functions in the driver’s phone to track its location, and whether it’s used for calls or texting while the car is in motion.

Parents concerned with ongoing driver training can log into a website to see where and how their child has been driving.

“What are the great behaviours that we want to reinforce and what are things that we want to change?” said Chiasson.

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#CyberFLASH: How did the RCMP crack BlackBerry’s security?


BlackBerry Ltd. has long held that its BlackBerry devices are among the most secure in the world, but it turns out the platform isn’t as bulletproof as many had been led to believe.

On Thursday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed the results of Project Clemenza, which it began in 2010. During the course of its investigation, the federal police force says, it intercepted more than a million private messages sent using BlackBerry’s PIN-to-PIN messaging, which led police to identify suspects in a series of violent crimes that included arson, forcible confinement and drug trafficking.

Personal Identification Number (PIN)-to-PIN messages are not the company’s popular BlackBerry Messenger service (BBM,) which the company still contends is ironclad when it comes to keeping messages secure. PIN-to-PIN allows BlackBerry users to send email directly to one another, keeping it from going out into the Internet where it could be spied on by prying eyes.

PIN-to-PIN messages are encrypted with what is known as Triple Data Encryption Standard (DES) encryption technology, which is among the best in the world. However, BlackBerry devices use what is known as a global cryptographic key to decode all of the messages sent to its devices. By faking, or “spoofing”, the PIN of the receiving BlackBerry device and utilizing the global cryptographic key, all messages sent to that device can be viewed by an eavesdropper.

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#CyberFLASH: Canada – China’s Lenovo raises security fears with possible bid for BlackBerry


Lenovo Group Ltd. is joining the list of suitors considering a bid for BlackBerry Ltd., raising concerns that the Canadian company’s ultra-secure communications network for the global elite might end up owned by a firm based in China.

BlackBerry provides mobile phones and an encrypted wireless network to many of the world’s largest corporations and most Western governments, including top officials in the United States and the country’s military – and would likely draw scrutiny in Washington and Ottawa.

If Lenovo’s reported interest resulted in a deal, the takeover attempt would be subject to a tough regulatory review in Canada. The federal government has killed several foreign takeovers under the Investment Canada Act.

That act permits reviews of deals worth more than $344-million. The government has also granted itself broader powers to halt takeovers of Canadian firms by foreign state-owned companies, particularly those from China. And Ottawa recently barred a bid for Winnipeg-based telecom company MTS Allstream by an Egyptian-led group on national security grounds.

“If the Egyptian company raised some red flags for the Canadian government, we should have red fireworks going off if a Chinese company wants to buy BlackBerry,” said Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former head of Asia-Pacific at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and chief executive of the Northgate Group, an Ottawa-based cyber-security firm. “BlackBerry is the prime phone used by all government officials and top officials… For that reason alone, it shall not and could not be sold to a foreign entity that is not within the realm of [our] close network of friends.”

Read more on Globe and Mail 

Canadian Government Pans BlackBerry PIN-to-PIN Security


BlackBerry smartphones may not be as secure as users think, according to a memo that Canada’s Public Safety department sent to government workers recently.

The memo was obtained by Postmedia News under Canada’s freedom of information law. The Canadian news agency reported this week that the one-page note distributed in January by the Public Safety department’s cyber-security unit singled out PIN-to-PIN messaging as “the most vulnerable method of communicating on a BlackBerry.”

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