back to article India threatens BlackBerry ban

India has followed Saudi Arabia‘s lead in threatening to cut off BlackBerry users, unless RIM provides the country with a mechanism to allow lawful interceptions. Having met with the country's network operators, the Indian government has now imposed a deadline of 31 August. By the end of this month either Indian security …

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  1. Lxbr
    WTF?

    Why the concentration on BlackBerry?

    Can someone explain why BlackBerry is getting some much heat at the moment? Are they much more secure/harder to tap than, for example, accessing an Exchange server over SSL, with the Exchange server in a different country?

    1. Stewart Atkins

      Re: Why the concentration on BlackBerry?

      Because with just the one threat/deal the government can get access to all of it's citizens' blackberrys?

    2. Vehlin

      Single Target

      Exchange servers are hosted by individual businesses, thus there are hundreds of thousands of them out there, that's a lot of individual groups to go after. In contrast all Blackberry data goes through RIMs servers, therefore they make a nice big catchall target.

    3. JaitcH
      Pint

      RIM / BlackBerry has always had good scrambling

      They use Triple DES, too.

      There are more secure software based systems.

    4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Why Blackberry?

      My guess is that your average government minister doesn't know the names of any similar services, but since BB is in the news they are getting asked questions by their own press and replying "Well, of course we will ensure that we have the same access as [whoever]".

      As for "are they harder to tap", it's pretty obvious that the answer is "No" since governments around the world seem to have found that RIM respond rather well to the corporate equivalent of rubber-hose cryptography. But let's not be too harsh on them. I doubt any other company would react differently. Look at Google in China.

      Nope. The lesson is clear. If you want a secure link, use a VPN to a server that you own in a country that believes in privacy, and be aware that this will attract unwelcome attention from the spooks in some countries, so perhaps you'd be better off not visiting them.

    5. Daniel B.
      Boffin

      Blackberries do secure as the default option.

      The thing is that Blackberries not only do the crypto by default, they do it so that even the common user with a BIS account will have all the data encrypted, and coming out at a point where the local government is unable to snoop upon. Setting up Exchange or (insert mail server) with SSL/TLS or VPNs isn't something a common user can do, but BB offers this out of the box.

      Also, the BBs have Content Protection, which means all the stuff in the handset itself is encrypted, so this makes it hard to get the info from the handset itself as well. AFAIK, other smartphones don't have these options, so even if you use VPNs, the cops can still dump all your flash memory and get what they're looking for.

      Anyway, all this government bitching is sending out a clear message: Blackberries are so secure that governments can't tap them. That's got to be a good selling point for companies deploying smartphones. Now, if BES could work with something other than Exchange/Domino...

      1. Chris Miller

        Which is why 'they' don't like RIM

        It's not as though it's difficult to encrypt data on other devices. But most people don't - so if I encrypt the occasional message, or even encrypt all my traffic, I will stand out like a sore thumb. With a Blackberry, those doing the monitoring find it much harder/impossible to identify targets of interest.

  2. Josco

    Will we (UK) be next?

    Soon all countries will do the same. I should think UK.gov is already in the queue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Uk

      I believe the UK already has all the access in wants to the RIM network. So much for encrypted mail services. Looks like everyone and his dog has access, if not now then on demand.

    2. JaitcH
      Unhappy

      The UK was one of the first ....

      with RIM servers.

      Blair and Brown i your pants.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Welcome

      RE: Will we (UK) be next?

      No need as RIM's EU service is handeled by servers located within the UK. We already have laws covering our law makers and enforcers needs in relation to access to our inner BB thoughts.

      That said, I do believe BB IM chat device to device would require knowing certain security keys, but again the laws that need be are already in place, given the location of the serivice. On a related note I'm not aware of any undocumented telco connections running out of the building like some govermental buildings do, but in thesedays its not needed when it all runs thru a central hub in london somewere in docklands like pretty much all internet traffic in this country.

      I do feel sorry for RIM with all this FOTM (Flavour Of The Month) basiching of we want access to your devices magic by various countries who were unable to have forsight to plan laws before they were rolled out (companies will bend over more when they want in on a market as apposed to how far they will bend once in place), buy hey. Though it is if not some realy good marketing for them, I mean, there basicly being singled out for being secure and if your in a country that hasn;t gone all FOTM then your being told, hey you can do secure sommunications on these devices. But nothing is realy secure, mearly a suspended illusion of delay, but some delays are more than others and if it wont be until your dead could somebody crack the encyption then most are happy with that. But its all about perception, if you have nothing to hide or you have a safe sex approach to how you handle your documents in regards to communications, then your fine and can sit back and enjoy the FOTM FAP.

      So UK isn't and wont be in this FOTM queue as they already covered there arses and dont need to publicly panic like countries still adapting to the world of business and law's not involving stones.

      Question it does raise, why do countries with less than perfect sex descrimination have a panic about secure mobile devices that also vibrate, who will be next to ask for rear entry to RIM devices.

    4. GeorgeTuk

      I'm probably wrong...

      ...but believe because there are servers in this country they could already have access.

      Plus I find it difficult to believe that we haven't already sorted it out but just with a quiet tap on RIMs shoulder. Same with the Yanks, what with Patroit "everyones a terrorist" Act.

  3. adnim

    PGP

    Need I say more. No, but I will anyway, I like the sound of my own typing ;-)

    If I wanted to send messages I did not want read I would encrypt the text and steg it into a picture of a cute pussy cat and put it on Flicker or perhaps upload it to alt.binaries.pictures.cutepussycats (if such a group exists).

    Spoof the MAC address of your kit, connect to a BT openzone/McD/Coffeeshop (one without CCTV pointing at your face) and send the message. Alternatively connect to any one of the many unsecured domestic WiFi Routers available, there are several I can connect to from my garden. No I don't use them, that would be unethical.

    The only people this kind of invasion into privacy is going to catch are the clueless. yes I know there are plenty out there.

    Who is the biggest threat to human rights, freedom and liberty? Terrorists, big corporations or your own government?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but

      people are really not interested in PGP. I used to use it when version 6.5 came out but haven't used it for years.

      Incidentally, I've lived in places where communications were regularly monitored. You get used to it. Sad, really. Now I wonder if a PGP app without back doors will come out?

      1. adnim

        PGP source code

        Try hiding a back door in source code that is open to peer review.

        "Any qualified individual can request a copy of PGP® source code, look at the code itself, verify the product has integrity, compile the code, and compare it to the commercial product. No backdoor or hidden access has ever been found."

        https://www.pgp.com/developers/sourcecode/index.html

        This of course is irrelevant here in the UK should the authorities determine the source of the encrypted message they want to read. The authorities will imprison you unless you supply the decryption keys. So encryption without anonymity is no encryption at all where the authorities are concerned. The bottom line is, are the contents of the encrypted message worth two years in prison for. If so, what is to stop the authorities arresting you again on release and demanding yet again the keys for the same encrypted text? Ad infinitum...

  4. GeorgeTuk
    Go

    We got a might bandwagon rolling through the land...

    ...whos next?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    BB email interception avoidence

    there's an app for that...

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