A Blackberry device to ward off intruders such as Edward Snowden

Will Blackberry’s new device provide redemption for the company after its fall from grace?

Blackberry hopes to return some shine to its flagging mobile device market with its latest spy-proof tablet, a technology aimed at keeping the likes of Edward Snowden off government-classified information, and those trying to tap into commercially sensitive data.

With the impending release (expected to be in the summer in the northern hemisphere), of the SecuTABLET, Blackberry will renew its focus on clients such as government officials and agencies that require high security.

Blackberry’s spy-proof tablet also promises to bring extra security to employees who frequently access work files, office Internet, and the company server via their gadget.

The device itself was developed by data encryption specialist Secusmart, which was last year acquired by Blackberry, the latter is based in Waterloo (Ontario), Canada. 

Blackberry has been struggling to carve new sources of revenue for itself as profits fall on the back of lower handset sales. The company’s latest quarterly earnings, for the three months ended February 2015, show sales at US$660 million (NZ$876 million), down from US$793 million a quarter ago, down from US$976 million a year ago.

The company’s effort at redemption, its Passport smartphone (launched in the US in late 2014), has had warm reception from reviewers, with aggregated polls from www.engadget giving it a 4.5 stars, 3.5 stars, and,, 4 stars. The jury is still out on whether the Passport will help regain Blackberry’s lost ground.

According to Financial Post, the new development shows a change in strategy for BlackBerry under CEO John Chen, who was hired as the company’s top executive in November 2013. This, according to the report, is in contrast with the company’s previous boss Thorstein Heins, who had predicted that tablets would soon be irrelevant, and told Bloomberg that “tablets themselves are not a good business model.” 

Have spy-protection will travel?

The company now has high hopes that the tablet will place them back in the mobile arena. The tablet promises users the ability to access applications such as Facebook and YouTube without the worry of confidential data leakage. The device, dubbed the SecuTABLET, is made up of Samsung’s Tab 10.5 with IBM’s security data technology that prevents any malware and hacking attempts to acquire data saved by personal applications. 

Protecting Angela Merkel’s conversations

The SecuTABLET is undergoing certification from the Federal Office for Information Technology (FOIS) in Germany for secure rating.

“National and international government customers have entrusted their voice and data communications with the Secusmart Security Card for years. This same technology is what secures the new SecuTABLET. Working alongside IBM and Samsung, we have added the last link in the chain of the Federal Security Network,” according to Dr Hans-Christoph Quelle, CEO of Secusmart GmbH. Read official press release for the device here.

Prior to the release of this tablet, Blackberry 10 OS devices have long been running the company’s main security software SecuSuite, a solution that is maximized and supported by the FOIS to secure the communication lines of Germany’s highest public officials, including Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

The top tablet devices in the market today offer their own propriety built-in security features. Apple has applied the Touch ID function on their iPad Air 2 and Mini 3. This is aimed at protecting the device as it will only allow the owner’s fingerprint to unlock it. The finger printing will also provide the owner a secure way of making purchases and installing apps using the Apple ID.

A Blackberry device

Most devices today also come with built-in anti-virus application to avoid malware and other viruses from infecting devices. Sony worked with AVG to pre-install their devices with its virus-scanning app, while Samsung has the KNOX Workspace software that provides “multi-layered protection.”

Priority of mobile security
Although data security is the top concern of enterprises in completely adopting the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) thread in their offices, a 2014 survey by Spiceworks showed that IT Departments do not consider mobile security as a priority. Only less than half of companies in the survey said there are investing on security software and apps. 

Although the spy-proof tablet has the potential to help IT departments and companies strengthen their mobile usage without the problem of any data leakage, the device has a bit of catch – the hefty price of over US$2,300.

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