When it comes to mobile phones Blackberry pride themselves on their security, with many companies taking up the device as their go-to model thanks to its support and security features. It now appears that those security features may not have been so secure after all with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) gaining the ability to read encrypted BBM messages.
When it comes to encryption, companies are having to be careful with the likes of Apple going to congress to discuss just how much they can be expected to help and support law enforcement without oversight or detailed rulings on how and when they can access private data. In this case, the RCMP gained access to BlackBerry’s BBM (BlackBerry messenger) services by using the encryption that came with your everyday BlackBerry, meaning the only ones that were safe from this interception are those connected to enterprise servers.
If you weren’t connected to an enterprise server, your BlackBerry would have used a peer-to-peer key that is loaded into your phone when it’s built, something that the RCMP managed to gain access to and in turn granted them access to people’s encrypted BBM messages and conversations.
As part of an operating, titled Project Clemenza, the RCMP intercepted and decrypted roughly one million messages as reported by Vice news in a joint investigation with Motherboard, who in turn revealed that the RCMP actually had a server in Ottawa that acted like a mobile phone by simulating “a mobile device that receives a message intended for [the rightful recipient]”.
With BlackBerry looking to step away from mobile devices and into security consulting, this news couldn’t come at any worse of a time given that if the server is still operational (key and all) then without a large update to its phones, the RCMP could still be reading people’s messages to this day even after the operation ended in 2012.