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Confidential information will be safe, RIM says

BlackBerry manufacturer says it cannot share encryption keys with UAE authorities

  • Access issues
    Each BlackBerry phone is designed with its own independent encryption codes to prevent breaches, RIM saysImage Credit: AFP
  • Access issues
    Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News Archive

Dubai: BlackBerry phone owners can rest assured their confidential information is not being compromised in the UAE, says Canadian manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM).

Contrary to media reports in the UAE and abroad, RIM said it cannot divulge encryption keys to authorities for security purposes because the technology used to secure phones won't allow it.

The statement was issued to Gulf News on Tuesday after media reports on Monday suggested that RIM had given authorities the keys to decipher BlackBerry content of consumers.

The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority could not be reached for comment.

Each BlackBerry phone — popular in the international business and government communities for its high-security technology — is designed with its own independent encryption codes to prevent breaches.

In a statement, RIM said that it had made "no changes to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers since, contrary to any rumours, the security architecture is the same around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys.

"Also, driving RIM's position is the fact that strong encryption is a fundamental commercial requirement for any country to attract and maintain international business anyway and similarly strong encryption is currently used pervasively in traditional VPNs on both wired and wireless networks in order to protect corporate and government communications." The company insisted that it made no special concessions for countries such as India and the UAE following threats earlier this year to ban BlackBerry phones in October because officials said encrypted RIM technology could compromise national security.

"RIM maintains a consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries," RIM said.

Late last month, RIM said in a statement that ensuring that its phone's high security was key to demand by the international business community.

"Strong encryption is a fundamental requirement for a wide variety of technology products that enable businesses to operate and compete, both domestically and internationally," RIM said.

Security architecture

"The BlackBerry security architecture was specifically designed to provide corporate customers with the ability to transmit information wirelessly while providing them with the necessary confidence that no one, including RIM, could access their data."

To lift some of the uncertainty surrounding the BlackBerry technology, RIM explained that its "security architecture for enterprise customers is based on a symmetric key system whereby the customer creates their own key and only the customer ever possesses a copy of their encryption key.

RIM does not possess a "master key", nor does any "back door" exist in the system that would allow RIM or any third party to gain unauthorised access to the key or corporate data.