Among other things, BlackBerry, was praised for the security that its proprietary OS provided. However, since the company's decision to go with Android for the PRIV, BlackBerry has been plagued with questions on how it will maintain the security that its community once enjoyed.
To answer the persistent questions and quell the community's doubts, Alex Manea, BlackBerry's Director for Security, published an article titled "PRIV is for Private: How BlackBerry Secures the Android Platform," which details the various solutions that BlackBerry implemented in its migration to Android, not only to maintain the level of security but to secure user data as well.
In the write-up, which was posted last Oct. 20, Manea explains how BlackBerry pioneered app permissions, allowing users to have more control over what pieces of personal information an app can use. Manea also emphasizes how BlackBerry's migration to Android combines its security prowess with Android's flexibility.
"Building on decades of experience securing mobile devices and years of experience integrating Android technologies, the brand new PRIV by BlackBerry is the perfect smartphone for businesses and consumers looking for productivity, privacy and security," writes Manea.
To secure the PRIV and its future devices which will be running on Android, BlackBerry implemented its Hardware Root of Trust, which lays the foundations for security by embedding each device hardware with unique cryptographic keys. This goes hand in hand with Verified Boot and Secure Bootchain, which verifies the integrity of both the hardware and the operating system using the injected key. The process makes sure both the hardware and software are not tampered with.
Furthermore, BlackBerry also used an enhanced Linux kernel containing several patches and configuration changes for better security. In addition to the secured kernel, the full disk will also be fully encrypted in compliance with publication 140-2 of the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS), which sets the standard for cryptographic modules.
The security also goes beyond the handset. The BlackBerry Infrastructure, which facilitates the transmission of thousands of terabytes of encrypted data, will be used to secure the network side of things. This is implemented in harmony with the BES12, an enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform for controlling a collection of devices, along with their installed apps and stored data, from a single console.
To further safeguard the user's privacy with the PRIV, BlackBerry designed it to work with Android for Work, which will separate personal data and apps with ones for work. The PRIV will also come with BlackBerry's DTEK application, which notifies the user which apps are accessing which set of data, and gives an overview of the device's overall security.