Despite a declining market share since 2009, Blackberry hasn't exited the smartphone arena just yet. They announced this week the launch of their new DTEK60 phone. It runs the Android operating system and, despite representing a hardware offering, the phone itself relates to their current software-centric business strategy.
Here's a look at the specs:
- Screen: All touch, 5.5" Quad HD display with 534 PPI
- Resolution: 2560 x 1440 Quad HD
- Front Camera: 8 MP
- Rear Camera: 21 MP
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
- RAM: 4 GB
- Storage: 32 GB
- Micro-SD slot capacity: 2 TB
- Battery: 3000 mAh 4.4V non-removable Lithium-Ion battery QC3.0 Enabled
- Talk Time: 26 hours
- Connector: USB Type-C
- Security device: Fingerprint sensor
- Operating system: Android 6.0.1
- App management: Android for Work / Google Play for work
- Price: $499 US
Android for Work is aimed at enterprises running Android devices and can be used to securely deliver appropriate applications while blocking the installation of programs from unknown sources. It utilizes device profiles to separate business data from personal data and apply application configuration models.
What's interesting about the DTEK60 is the focus on software and security. The fingerprint sensor is an important factor, and the phone is FIPS 140-2 compliant, meaning it meets comprehensive security standards for devices which contain sensitive information, and which Corsec Security states may utilize techniques such as "cryptography for secure remote management, data encryption, digital signatures, information protection and more."
The security features are comprehensive. The DTEK60 uses a concept called "secure bootloader" which Blackberry states: "uses multi-stage verification to ensure that the Android OS hasn't been tampered with, in order to protect business data against hackers rooting the device." It also features what's called a "Hardware Root of Trust" which "adds security keys to the chipsets inside the DTEK60 to prevent the device from being spoofed or counterfeited."
The DTEK60 also ties in with enterprise mobility management products such as Blackberry Enterprise Server 12 (BES12) which can administer devices by providing provisioning, remote wiping and the enforcement of security policies. Security policies have traditionally been one of Blackberry's strong points and they have paved the way for the concept in the mobile device management arena. These policies can mandate the use of encryption on micro-SD cards, require the use of complex passwords, turn off or disable features such as the camera, and much more.
Some of the security solutions Blackberry offers include SecuSUITE for Enterprise, BBM Protected, BlackBerry Enterprise Identity and the DTEK Blackberry App.
Let's take a closer look at these products:
- SecuSUITE for Enterprise allows users to engage in secure communications such as phone calls and text messaging, using an app which relies on the TLS, S/MIME & SRTP protocols to authenticate and encrypt traffic.
- BBM Protected is also intended to secure text messages, as does SecuSUITE for Enterprise, and offers multi-person or team chats, the use of high priority messages, delivery and read notifications and policy controls such as restricting the use of copying/pasting data.
- Blackberry Enterprise Identity provides single-signon capabilities from any device in order to access applications in the cloud. It is vendor agnostic, works on iOS, Android as well as the Blackberry Operating System, and ties in with BES12.
- The DTEK Blackberry App monitors the device operating system and active applications, providing notifications when user or data privacy might be compromised (taking pictures or video via the camera, sending text messages, accessing contacts or user location) and offers recommendations to reduce risk. It provides a security rating based on device operations to help users assess current threats.
Blackberry also touts their nimble approach in producing and releasing security patches. They assert they share the record with Google for the most rapid delivery of patches for the Android operating system. One such example are the QuadRooter vulnerabilities which affected nearly a billion Android devices running Qualcomm processing units; Blackberry was the first major manufacturer to release a patch.
The DTEK60 looks like an impressive new addition to the smartphone world, and businesses interested in the granular and comprehensive security it offers would do well to take a closer look.
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Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.