Why BlackBerry Messenger is App of Selection for Cartels and Governments

Your accountant uncle who nonetheless wears his telephone in a holster on his hip loves BlackBerry Messenger. And so, apparently, does one of many world’s most infamous drug kingpins.

Learn Extra: Paris Assault Might Renew Debate Over Encrypted Messaging Apps

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was lately recaptured after escaping from jail final yr, and in a weird twist, it emerged that actor Sean Penn met with the fugitive when he was on the run, and that BlackBerry Messenger performed a pivotal position of their communications.

BlackBerry encrypts knowledge resembling emails and its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) messages despatched between a consumer’s telephone and public networks, making certain higher privateness for customers. however typically making life more durable for police and intelligence businesses. The corporate has lengthy touted that its merchandise supply extra safety than these of rivals resembling Apple.

BlackBerry declined to remark for this story.

Paradoxically, BlackBerry’s merchandise are incessantly utilized by authorities, army and safety organizations for a similar causes. The corporate has greater than 70 authorities certifications and approvals – greater than another cellular vendor – and sixteen of the world’s G20 governments use BlackBerry. The Division of Protection simply final summer time gave its stamp of approval for working its tremendous-safe Public Key Infrastructure on BlackBerry’s working system and smartphones.

Associated: Encrypted Apps and Communication Hold Intelligence Officers Up at Night time

Robert Bigman, former chief info safety officer on the Central Intelligence Company who retired in 2012, informed NBC Information in an e-mail that many U.S. authorities organizations, together with the CIA and FBI, nonetheless depend on BlackBerry for top-finish encryption of e-mail and messages.

"One of many advantages of BBM is that every message is individually encrypted with a singular key," Bigman stated in an e mail. "In contrast to BlackBerry’s earlier merchandise, you do not want a BlackBerry Enterprise Server operating to put in and use the product on the varied units."

"One other good function that I am positive El Chapo loved is message registration privateness," the previous CIA official stated. "You do not want to offer or change telephone numbers and even names if you register for the service.


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A number of governments all over the world (Pakistan, India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia to call a number of) have banned BlackBerry’s enterprise service and its Web and messaging providers "for safety causes." Prime Minister David Cameron even thought-about banning BBM within the UK in the course of the 2011 riots.

As for El Chapo, that is his second escape from jail and subsequent seize. The primary escape led to him being caught in 2014. And whereas BBM seems to be amongst his most popular strategies of communication, it was additionally what might have led to his arrest the primary time he was caught. Authorities honed in on the BlackBerry of considered one of his associates and subsequently discovered their strategy to Guzmán, who surrendered.