Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BBM Protected, what it can do for your business?

Tell me again, What's BBM?

Before we go on to BBM Protect let me quickly talk about standard BBM.  Until about three years ago I had never used BBM even though I used a BlackBerry for work.  One of my colleagues returned from a business trip to India and raved about the application and how he was introduced to it by the people he met. I thought it was kind of quaint to see him clicking out “texts” to his new sub-continent buddies.

I signed up without much enthusiasm however within a short space of time I connected with a couple of BlackBerry users on an internet business forum, that was fun and pretty soon we were a small group of BBM users swapping news and views.

I then discovered on a trip to Europe that it was quite popular for informal rapid fire business communications.  I connected with my European business contacts and found how simple it was to send specifications and images back and forth while on the move.  So now I have over fifty international contacts that I communicate with daily.  The group members are from Canada (naturally), the US, the UK (where I am), Spain, France, Germany, India, Australia and Indonesia.

The reason I got hooked to it so quickly was its really slick user experience and importantly for me I was not obliged to hand over my business phone number.

So what do you get with standard BBM

  • High quality Video calls
  • High quality Voice calls 
  • Know when messages have been delivered (D’s) and read (R’s) 
  • You can share your screen
  • Chat and share photos, voice notes and documents
  • Host multi-person chats for up to 30 people.
  • Post personal messages, profile pictures and current status.
  • PIN code privacy, no phone number disclosure is required
  • BBM is low-cost because messages are sent as data; users do not incur individual charges for each text (although this advantage is getting weaker as carriers now offer a bulk text allowance.
  • Messages are real time meaning that users can carry on multiple, simultaneous conversations with other users and participate in group chats of up to thirty members.
  • BBM is available for Android and IOS can offer all of the above except video chat for now. (Windows phone is imminent)

So! BBM is an easy to use, , cross platform, feature rich, rock solid messaging platform. Is it perfect?  Well the only niggle I have is that the send button is located at the bottom right side of the screen and butter fingers like mine tend to accidentally hit send half way through a sentence.

But is it secure?

Well here's how it works.

A BBM PIN-to-PIN message sent by a user is sent to the cellular service provider’s network. The service provider then forwards the message to the BlackBerry relay station. The BlackBerry relay station then relays the message to the receiving BlackBerry’s cellular service provider. The recipient’s cellular service provider then transmits the message to the intended recipient.

It is obvious from the above that there are weak endpoints points in the system around transmission through the various networks. The other issue of course is that BBM could be opened and unscrambled by an overseas law enforcement agency without having to make a case in to BlackBerry in Canada. So while we can say it is probably more secure than most other consumer IM programs such as Whatsapp and WeChat it is not secure enough to give Global corporations peace of mind. 

Enter BBM protected

what is it?
It’s a new service that offers enterprise users all the features of standard BBM with an enhanced security model for BBM messages sent between BlackBerry smartphones, it protects corporate data end to end with additional encryption.

For who?

For customers in regulated industries such as financial services or government as well as highly security conscious organizations like law firms, or healthcare providers. Security-conscious organisations are in a pickle when it comes to secure IM. Many consumer IM apps don’t meet the security needs of IT while the enterprise IM apps deployed by IT leave end users seeking more utility and a better mobile experience.  until now no secure IM apps have managed to meet the needs of both IT and end users. BBM Protected works together with the logging and auditing capabilities available today with BES, allowing enterprise customers in regulated industries to meet their compliance obligations.

How does it work?

BBM Protected adds an additional layer of encryption to the existing BBM security model. 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; BlackBerry is not involved in brokering the exchange of the keys between the two devices.

The first time that two BBM Protected users go to establish a chat, they will be required to share a secret passphrase to authenticate their identities and generate the BBM Protected encryption key used to secure their chat.

BBM Protected is the most secure mobile IM app: it is the only secure IM client to use FIPS 140-2 validation.  We are living in an age where data theft and digital security breaches are a daily occurrence.  As business people we need to do everything we can to secure our communications and BBM protect is a great tool to have as part of you security suite.