BlackBerry to acquire anti-eavesdropping firm Secusmart

The device you may be reading this article on right now is an indispensable window to the world. But, it can also be an unlocked door to your most private medical records, your company's most important customer data or your country's most vital secrets. I'm not being alarmist. There are crippling threats enterprises around the world face as they move toward a mobile-first, cloud-first environment.

In order to better tackle these threats, we announced today that BlackBerry has signed an agreement to acquire Secusmart. It's a strategic move for BlackBerry, and it provides another important tool for enterprises to combat the type of threats that are becoming more common such as electronic eavesdropping and data theft.

John Chen
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
John Chen

We have addressed eavesdropping concerns with Secusmart, who has been a partner since 2009 and we currently have the SecuSUITE for BlackBerry 10. It's a solution used by Germany's Federal Office for Information Security for classified communications between the country's top officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Secusmart is the leader in high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping solutions for government organizations, enterprises and telecommunications service providers. By taking our partnership one step deeper, we're extending our security leadership with Secusmart's talent and technology.

Factor in that the average hard cost of a data breach at a U.S. firm is $5.85 million (with reputational and organizational costs much, much higher) and it's no wonder that mobile security ranks near the top of concerns among corporate and government leaders. That threat is only going to rise as we move rapidly away from desktops and central servers into a decentralized technological era powered by billions of interconnected mobile devices.

The search for security is neverending as long as there are hackers and cyber criminals working to crack the security code. And the playing field has changed so dramatically over the years. Devices used to be like primitive planets locked in orbit around their own little stars. They were extensions of legacy systems. Now devices are more like their own galaxies – self-sufficient, highly integrated and expanding at ever-faster rates. The question all of us – corporate executives, government leaders, medical professionals and everyday citizens – must confront is how vulnerable these Galaxies really are.

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Some will assure you that their security is as tight as Fort Knox or Iron-clad or "Good enough," while others make Big Blue sky promises about keeping the doctor away.

The truth is, none of them have a proven track record in rigorous end-to-end mobile security. None are prepared for the radical changes the next few years will bring as we move toward the much-heralded Internet of Things. Part of the problem is that the definition of security varies from person to person and organization to organization.

At BlackBerry, we have always approached security as integral to everything we do. It's not just an offering we provide – security is a philosophy we embody. We don't believe security is a widget or a protocol you tack on at the end to make a consumer-focused device appear enterprise-ready.

For users, privacy is an essential aspect of security. Privacy is one tumbler in the lock that makes up a secure ecosystem. Trust is another essential element of security. You can't do what you need to do if you're constantly worried that someone might be looking over your shoulder.

Trust becomes exponentially more important as the Internet of Things takes shape, allowing us an unprecedented level of control over the world around us. We are pioneers in those systems. Just one example is with QNX, which is the top choice among automakers to power onboard computers. It also runs medical diagnostic and monitoring equipment, manages nuclear power plants, controls high-speed railroad signals, and is trusted to control sophisticated aeronautics and defense applications.

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That's an amazing level of control. And control is the vital element of security. This will define how successfully enterprises and governments move into a mobile-first world, and how much control they exert over mobile users versus how much control users have themselves. For years, many IT managers loved to restrict what users were able to do. In a different era, that was important. Today, true security is about enabling people to do more.

We are at the beginning of a fundamentally new era in computing and communications – an era where billions of distributed devices give us more access and power than at any time in human history. That's incredibly exciting, but incredibly dangerous if you can't answer this question: How secure is your smartphone if it falls into the wrong hands?

John Chen is chief executive officer of BlackBerry and executive chair of the company's board of directors. Follow BlackBerry on Twitter at@BlackBerry4Biz.