If you are a delighted owner of BlackBerry mobile handset and rely heavily on mobile communications for your business, the latest move by RIM may annoyed you till an extent. Your all mobile communications, which may be carrying some confidential figures, instructions or statements, are no more illegible by unauthorized people. Research in Motion (RIM) has finally made Indian government equipped with a software tool which can read & monitor all your mobile communications triggered by your BlackBerry handsets.
Last year, Research In Motion found itself on the wrong side of a few Asian governments, as the countries demanded access to encrypted BlackBerry communications, often on the threat of banning the devices – potentially devastating for business travelers. Recognizing that it would have to give up its users privacy in order to maintain service in those countries, RIM started taking the steps to grant the needed level of access to customer emails and messages after multiple failed attempts to console those governments. Now it has finally provided India with the software tool which can be used to read and monitor all your BlackBerry communications by Indian Government’s authorities.
This fiasco all started because RIM uses end-to-end encryption that kept messages secure between BlackBerry devices and its servers in Canada. Unlike, say, a text message, which can be read unencrypted as soon as it hits the cell tower, BlackBerry communications avoided the efforts of local governments to read their contents. Of course, it wasn’t long before they called upon the bogeyman of “terrorism” as leverage to demand access to the private messages of RIM’s customers.
The solution RIM has developed for India is a compromise, maintaining the encryption of messages sent through the Blackberry Enterprise Server for its customers, but opening other communications to monitoring.
If you care about keeping your emails private, you need to use encryption all the way between you and the recipient. Even an encrypted connection to an email server isn’t sufficient, as the company running the server has full access to your messages. Solutions like APG, an OpenPGP implementation for Android, offer a very high level of security when used properly.
Many business owners feel that RIM is losing the USP by providing such ‘indirect handler’ to government. The prime object which draws people towards BlackBerry handsets is the secure encrypted communication which connects end-to-end.