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RIM Providing India BlackBerry Monitoring Tools to Simplify What They Could Already Do

I am still not sure if anybody at RIM has sat down with the folks in India and explained to them how BlackBerry encryption works. Regular consumer BIS and BBM conversations are NOT encrypted which means carriers and governments could view the contents if they had access to the data stream through the carrier. This is nothing new and has been the case for years. We covered this detail in an article back in August of last year on “What communication is encrypted on your BlackBerry.” To sum it up your regular BIS email is not encrypted between your device and the carriers BIS server only BES email is encrypted. BBM messages for consumers and most business users are also not encrypted but rather are scrambled using the same key found on any BlackBerry device unless a BES admin sets is differently which would stop you from BBM-ing anybody outside your BES.

The rocket scientists in India’s Department of Telecommunications seem to not have the technical savvy to read clear text on the wire so they have been hounding RIM to provide them a solution. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that RIM has given India’s DOT  a solution to monitor email and BBM which essentially does what any carrier could do if they had the technical know how. India claims this is to protect from terrorists that are using “Encrypted Emails” the problem is RIM’s solution will not help them at all when it comes to this.

If a terrorist or any company uses a BlackBerry on a BES than all BES emails are encrypted and even RIM cannot give carriers access to them. In other words all they need to do to foil the brilliant rocket scientists at India’s DOT is setup their device on a BES server. There are tons of technologies just like this that India can also not monitor like SSL, VPN, PGP, etc but I guess India is still going to try.

Good luck folks!

7 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Haha! Its a great Bollywood flick ! Enjoying the show?

  2. All BIS traffic is encrypted using a public key. BBM or email. It is all handled the same way. So even this article is wrong.

    The only time traffic is ever sent clear text would be over a TCP connection or wifi direct starting in 6.0

  3. Hey Ronen,

    Hope you’re done dissing India. They’re just doing everything they can to stop terrorist attacks and Im sure they know a lot more than someone who makes money out of writing dumass articles on a website and cracking phone lock codes.

    I used to respect this site as one that gives worthy news to read; but you’ve turned out to be a site thats worst than BGR that disses Blackberry. Atleast their bias is product based.

    • Hi PN,
      We are not dissing India. We have the same rocket scientists making such requests in the US too. The thing is once they start making ridiculous requests like India’s Department of Telecommunications they tend to be taught how the internet actually works. I have been working in IT security for 7 years now which is why I feel I can respectfully say that these guys have no idea what they are asking for.

      The main flaw in the request from India’s DOT is that anybody willing to spend $15 a month for BES service or $10/month for VPN service can bypass their security. In other words its worthless security that is just violating the privacy of regular citizens to add very little security against terrorists.

      I totally understand trying to stop terrorists. I have lost quite a few family members to terrorists. The thing is I want to people who are in charge of security to be focused on security that cannot be EASILY bypassed by paying $15/month. What they are doing now is just grandstanding to make it sound like they are doing something but they really are adding no actual security…

  4. Why this mockery of ‘rocket scientists’ in India?

    As PN posted, they (we/India) are trying whatever is possible to not lose any more lives.

    This is a bad read and a shocker.

    – Arnold, India.

  5. Hey … quit pickin’ on us rocket scientists!
    :-)

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