BlackBerry gets tough on security with new takeover, products

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BlackBerry has moved to strengthen its security credentials by making a new acquisition and launching products for mobile and the Internet of Things.

The smartphone maker has bought WatchDox, with plans to add its technology into its enterprise mobility management product BES12.

WatchDox offers enterprise file-sync-and-share solutions that allow workers to share files securely across any device. It allows businesses to view and control how files are edited and distributed.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

John Chen, BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO, said: "This acquisition represents another key step forward as we transition BlackBerry into the premier platform for secure mobile communications software and applications, supporting all devices and operating systems.

"Together with last year’s Secusmart acquisition, Samsung partnership, our own internal development efforts, and now the acquisition of WatchDox, we now have capabilities to secure communications end-to-end from voice, text, messaging, data and now enterprise file-sync-and share.”

Meanwhile, BlackBerry has launched a new initiative to improve security for devices.

Dubbed Chace, the Centre for High Assurance Computing Excellence will work on developing tools that offer greater levels of security to enterprises. It plans to partner with universities and industry groups, including health organisations, to work on new products.

David Kleidermacher, Chief Security Officer, BlackBerry, said: “There’s a belief that the key to the world’s security issues is to patch faster, but this hamster wheel fails to address the root issue. Systems that require regular patching always contain vulnerabilities unknown to developers, and some of these vulnerabilities are in fact known by would-be attackers. It’s clear we must build systems that are provably devoid of security flaws.

"The software and security engineering required to meet this objective is sadly rare today and must become commonplace. CHACE is BlackBerry’s initiative towards this goal, and we welcome all who wish to join the fight.”

Finally, the company's Certicom subsidiary has begun issuing certificates for connected devices. Certicom will manage the security certificate program, which it said would help companies concentrate on their core business.

For example, Certicom recently began issuing certificates for a smart meter initiative in the UK, which has seen more than 104 million devices connect via Zigbee.

Jim Alfred, Vice President, BlackBerry Technology Solutions, Certicom, said: “Strong cryptography and entity authentication are the foundation of IoT security. When you manage remote devices, you need to know that you can trust the devices and that your communications network is secured. Certicom device certificates can provide that assurance. Offering innovations in device security is part of BlackBerry’s ongoing mission to be a leading provider of device and application management solutions.”

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