PGP BlackBerry smartphones might not be as secure as the Canadian company wants you to believe. Dutch police have claimed that they were able to access a series of encrypted emails on extra-secure PGP BlackBerry smartphones.
Investigators from the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), which performs forensic investigations in criminal cases, claim that they were able to read emails on a BlackBerry smartphone customised for extra security with PGP encryption. “We are capable of obtaining encrypted data from BlackBerry PGP devices,” said Tuscha Essed, a press officer with NFI told Motherboard.
PGP, also known as Pretty Good Privacy, is a program that bolsters the security on a device, and is most commonly used encrypting communication. It offers encryption and decryption features, providing a user the ability to add an additional security layer to their emails, files, and texts. PGP BlackBerry smartphones hence are deemed more secure and are sold by many online vendors, though in most cases PGP encryption on BlackBerry smartphones are just used for email communications.
NFI hasn’t disclosed the techniques it utilises to get access to the data on an encrypted smartphone, however, the publication citing an online vendor claims that it is a forensics program developed by private company CelleBrite.
If you have a custom BlackBerry smartphone, and the reason you bought it was its sophisticated security capabilities, the only silver lining coming out of the report is that someone needs to physically have possession of your device in order to hack it.
Law enforcement agencies including the United States’ FBI as well as Drug Enforcement Administration and the UK’s National Crime Agency wouldn’t comment on whether they are capable of decrypting the security on a BlackBerry smartphone. BlackBerry is among the companies that work with the government. John Chen, BlackBerry CEO, recently called out Apple for its unwillingness to hand over a user’s data to the government.