Dutch Police Say They Can Crack BlackBerry Encryption

Think the PGP encryption on your BlackBerry device is pretty good? Think again. Law enforcement agencies are now claiming they can hack the encryption on BlackBerrys to read user e-mails. The news could spell disaster for a company whose chief appeal rests on its reputation for privacy and security.

The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), a government organization that aids Dutch law enforcement agencies with forensic evidence, confirmed that Dutch police have been able to crack the encryption to recover even previously deleted e-mails. The Dutch police accomplished the feat thanks to a forensic software program developed by mobile data technology company Cellebrite, a subsidiary of the Japanese company Sun Corp.

Canadian Police Can Also Read Your E-Mail

Although the NFI is the only law enforcement organization that has confirmed its ability to break PGP encryption on the BlackBerry, legal documents from a court case in Ontario, Canada, indicate that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are also able to extract deleted and encrypted e-mails from the devices.

In the absence of any obvious link between the two agencies, it?EU?s unlikely they are the only ones who have managed to break the encryption, even if no other governments are talking.

It?EU?s still unclear what technique the NFI and RCMP are using to gain access to the encrypted e-mails, but there is some good news. According to documents made public by the NFI, police must have physical access to a device to exploit the vulnerability. Additionally, the technique only appears to be partially successful because at least some e-mails remain indecipherable.

BlackBerry?EU?s Only Advantage

Nevertheless, the news is certainly a blow to BlackBerry. The company, whose devices once seemed practically ubiquitous among enterprise clients, has seen its share of the cell phone market collapse in the last decade under an onslaught of user-friendly smartphones...

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