BlackBerry Buys Secusmart – The Firm That NSA-Proofed Merkel’s Phone

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Angela Merkel © 360b shutterstock

Secusmart secured Angela Merkel’s BlackBerry against NSA snooping. Now BlackBerry wants to offer that more widely

BlackBerry is to buy the German anti-eavesdropping solutions provider, Secusmart GmbH, which is already its partner in providing secure phones for Angela Merkel and other German officials.

BlackBerrywants to maintain its reuptation for security and capitalise on concerns about the snooping habits of the NSA, exposed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. In 2013 it was revealed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was a target of NSA eavesdropping, a move that soured Germany’s relationship with the US. However, it is believed that any attempts to crack her encryption likely failed, thanks to an ongoing agreement with Secusmart to provide BlackBerry phones with heightened security to German agencies and politicians.

Angela Merkel © 360b shutterstockEavesdropping Prevention

BlackBerry announced the acquisition of Secusmart, for an undisclosed sum, and confirmed reports that the two organisation had previously collaborated to produce Secusmart-equipped BlackBerry phones for German government agencies, as well as German government leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Secusmart specialises in “high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organisations, enterprises and telecommunications service providers,” said BlackBerry.

“We are always improving our security solutions to keep up with the growing complexity of enterprise mobility, with devices being used for more critical tasks and to store more critical information, and security attacks becoming more sophisticated,” said John Chen, Chairman and CEO of BlackBerry.

Mobile Security

“The acquisition of Secusmart underscores our focus on addressing growing security costs and threats ranging from individual privacy to national security,” said Chen. “This acquisition bolsters our security solutions with leading voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping technologies, and furthers BlackBerry’s security leadership in end-to-end mobile solutions.”

“This transaction is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate growth in the market for high-end secure communications solutions, driven by the need to combat electronic eavesdropping and data theft,” said Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle, MD of Secusmart.

“Secusmart and BlackBerry’s solution already meets the highest security requirements of the German federal authorities and NATO for restricted communications,” said Dr Quelle.

During a press conference, Dr Quelle reportedly warned that mobile workers often believe their communications are secure when they travel in “unfriendly jurisdictions”, because they have set up VPNs and other data protection measures.

In such places, he said, “I can guarantee you that somebody is listening”  – unless of course they are using the Secusmart and BlackBerry solution that is.

Last month, the German government cancelled a contract with the US telecoms giant Verizon Communications, owing to concerns about the NSA spying activities.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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