It seems an age has passed since the day John Chen, BlackBerry’s chief, said they’d only make an Android phone if they could make it secure. The BlackBerry PRIV is official, and is already available to pre-order. The physical QWERTY-equipped slider is the first BlackBerry to run Android and has several key features built in to ensuring that it stays secure. Security is built in to its hardware and its software. It’s no surprise then to read that the company is committed to keeping up with Google’s monthly security updates…
Every month, Google releases a security bulletin containing a list of discovered vulnerabilities within Android. One month later, those vulnerabilities are made public, essentially giving OEMs one month to get the relevant fixes out to customers before their devices are at risk. In a blog post this morning, BlackBerry has stated that all of the PRIVs that ship from ShopBlackBerry will get those updates, as will any devices sold by carriers and retailers who have agreed to participate in the monthly update program. In short, even if you get a carrier-locked phone, you should still get regular and fast updates.
As well as the monthly security updates, BlackBerry will release what it calls a ‘Hotfix’ to customers when necessary. If a critical Android vulnerability is discovered and can be fixed by quickly delivering code to handsets, BlackBerry will do so. The company has the ability to deliver patches to all BlackBerry PRIV handsets regardless of which specific model. The company will work with carriers/partners on delivering these, but will sidestep partners and push them directly if needed.
There are also enterprise-managed updates where IT teams can use BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server (BES) to deliver OTA updates to an entire team of devices.
PRIV by BlackBerry is leading the Android smartphone world in privacy and security. This leadership requires tremendous resources and hard-earned expertise in protecting users that go far beyond the engineering of the device itself. Setting the bar in incident response and patch management is a critical part of the BlackBerry end-to-end Android privacy strategy.
In an age of increasing worries over security, and how much of our personal information is available to be seen and sold, the rise of the ultra-secure smartphone is not surprising. BlackBerry isn’t the only company making moves to secure Android. Turing Robotics launched an encrypted device earlier this year, and BlackPhone has recently launched its latest phone. That’s without mentioning the securely encrypted calling and messaging app which Edward Snowden himself approves of.
In the days leading up to its market launch, BlackBerry is doing all it can to persuade buyers that — despite being Android — this phone is as secure as they come and will remain secure with regular updates and patches. Whether that leads to success is another matter entirely.