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3/17/2015
09:00 AM
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BlackBerry Looks To Revive Relevance By Doubling Down On Security

Company launches new uber-secure tablet built on Samsung hardware, teams with IBM.

This week at CeBIT, BlackBerry further showed it hopes to pull itself out of a tailspin by doubling down on security -- this time launching a new tablet that puts security at the forefront. While this may not be the first time the once-mighty mobile player used security as a differentiator, it plans to evolve its game plan by saving on R&D through the establishment of key partnerships with Samsung and IBM to bring the product forward.

Dubbed the SecuTABLET, the new release is a high-security tablet based on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. Designed particularly for public sector agencies and enterprises that work with them, the tablet is meant to pass muster with stringent government national security standards. The idea is to help secure data governed by these standards while still enabling the user to take advantage of apps and social sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp.

The SecuTABLET pulls together Samsung's KNOX encryption features with its own subsidiary Secusmart's SecuSUITE for BlackBerry 10 service, which separates personal and work data streams and encrypts email, voice, text, and browsing transmissions. Built on a micro SD card with a crypto-controller and PKI coprocessor for authentication, SecuSUITE has already achieved niche traction with a few of its purpose-built smartphones over the past year.

This is a big step for BlackBerry in evolving Secusmart's technology—the firm just completed its acquisition of the German firm at the end of 2014. In order to bring its new asset together for a meaningful launch, BlackBerry leaned on IBM's for development of secure app-wrapping technology for SecuTABLET, as well as Big Blue's assistance as a systems integrator to help government sector clients implement the tablet within high-assurance communication infrastructures.

"The SecuTABLET closes a supply gap and opens up for government and administrations an opportunity to derive greater benefit from digitization and the mobile Internet, with system integration as a fundamental success factor,” said Stefan Hefter, Senior Management Consultant with IBM.

The announcement is a follow-on to earlier news this month out of Mobile World Congress that BlackBerry is launching BlackBerry Leap, a new smartphone squarely targeting the Apple demographic: young professionals.

 “BlackBerry Leap was built specifically for mobile professionals who see their smartphone device as a powerful and durable productivity tool that also safeguards sensitive communications at all times,” said Ron Louks, BlackBerry's president of devices and emerging solutions. 

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
3/17/2015 | 11:37:17 AM
Privacy vs. Security
Part of Blackberry's downfall wasn't a data security issue but a data privacy issue that instantly made all of their data security features irrelevant: they caved to foreign governments wanting backdoors and/or censorship in their products.

I don't see Blackberry making a real comeback until they meaningfully -- and very publicly -- reverse themselves on that front.
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