Dutch police are able to decipher encryption on PGP equipped BlackBerrys

Dutch police are able to decipher encryption on PGP equipped BlackBerrys
We all know that BlackBerry handsets are known for their security. Some 'Berry handsets are even more protected thanks to the use of PGP encryption. That would make the phone extremely secure, which is why organized crime is said to use PGP equipped BlackBerry models to engage in conversations that can't be viewed by the prying eyes of the law.

The PGP equipped BlackBerrys are offered by online firms like TopPGP and GhostPGP. Purchasing phones with such high levels of encryption can be as easy as whipping out a credit card. One company selling these enhanced BlackBerry handsets, called Phantom Secure, notes that "no information is required with purchase" of one of the phones, and that "Your data connection and device are not registered to you."

However, law enforcement officials with the Netherlands Forensic Institute say that they have been able to break down the code. While the Dutch police didn't give away the method used to achieve this, but there is speculation that software from Cellebrite was employed. One possible method requires removing a memory chip from the circuit board and dumping the data from it.

While the Netherlands Forensic Institute says that it has broken the code, it hasn't been able to do so in every case. In one test, 279 out of 325 encrypted emails were cracked by the organization. In addition, the actual BlackBerry handset that contains the encrypted message needs to be in the possession of the law enforcement group aiming to decipher the code. This limits the usefulness of the method in real-life applications.
The phone used in the test is rumored to be the BlackBerry 9720.


Some PGP vendors claim that their BlackBerry phones remain 100% secure. According to GhostPGP, "We have not been affected. Our services are completely secure and have never been compromised."


source: Motherboard via Engadget

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8 Comments

1. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

So an older model BlackBerry was decrypted. Not a more secure, BB10 device.

2. meanestgenius

Posts: 22520; Member since: May 28, 2014

So these are OS7 devices, and not the more secure BB10 devices. OS7 devices are EOL. Edit: BobbyD and I had the same thought, lol. Great minds think alike.

3. Suo.Eno

Posts: 556; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

Plus to be fair about this in particular:- " . One possible method requires removing a memory chip from the circuit board and dumping the data from it." That's a hard hack and only applies when a. you've already lost the phone in which case you'd scramble for fallback measures already and b. you're Jason Bourne and got 99% "dangerous" content on phone to a point where this method should be worthwhile....but not even 50% PGP users are so....

4. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Alan F trying anything to make BlackBerry look bad...SMH...

5. Bernoulli

Posts: 4362; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

He may not like this fruit in particular.

6. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

This article's title is deliberately making it sound like BlackBerry failed at security. When in fact they are old phones with PGP added by someone else. The title should be something like Adding PGP to old BlackBerry phones may not be secure. No Fair and Balanced here on Phonearena.

7. Nabil111

Posts: 105; Member since: Apr 14, 2014

To be fair, the title isn't wrong. Clearly click-bait once you've read the article, but still true. No one would read it if it said "adding PGP to old BBs make them insecure" everyone would just skim past it and miss the content.

8. meanestgenius

Posts: 22520; Member since: May 28, 2014

Still, it could have been a more balanced article.

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