Turning its focus toward the high-end enterprise market once again, BlackBerry Limited has released its new secure messaging application, known as BBM Protected. The new app was announced earlier this year and is being released today for some BlackBerry phones, as part of the company’s recently introduced eBBM software suite. While the regular version of BBM is already popular among consumers, BBM Protected offers additional security and compliance features designed specifically for BlackBerry's enterprise users.
The secure version of BBM offers a new form of encryption that has yet to be introduced with any other iteration of BlackBerry Messenger. In fact, the company says that BBM Protected is the only secure mobile instant messaging app using the FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic library.
The company explains that BBM Protected uses multiple layers of encryption, with one of them providing encryption keys that are controlled by the enterprise instead of by BlackBerry. For industries and organizations that rely on secure communications, not having to leave encryption keys in BlackBerry’s hands can be extremely beneficial.
While there are many secure messaging platforms available for mobile phones already, BlackBerry says that few offer the same level of protection as BBM Protected.
“BBM Protected adds an additional layer of encryption to the existing BBM security model,” the company explains in its news announcement. “With the new layer of BBM Protected encryption, messages sent between two BBM Protected users are encrypted using an encryption key unique to those two users. This encryption key is controlled by the enterprise.”
Even though end-to-end encryption is now common among messaging applications, the encryption keys themselves are usually controlled by the company in charge of the application. Users must then trust the security of whichever company that is. However, BBM Protected removes that dilemma by giving enterprises more control over the eBBM suite.
Every user that connectes to BBM Protected will have to verify his or her identity, and a key must be generated for each conversation. With this sort of protection, employees can communicate with each other and other eBBM users, and not worry about how secure their chats are.
Expanding To Compete
For now, BBM Protected is only available on select BlackBerry smartphones. Users will have to be running BBOS 6.0 or later, or BlackBerry 10 in Regulated mode, in order to have access to the service.
BlackBerry says it will release BBM Protected for iOS and Android later this year. Since those platforms are now far more popular than BlackBerry's own handset, they are essential for helping BlackBerry gain market share against other secure messaging apps.