After a series of governments threatened BlackBerry bans, Research in Motion (RIM) negotiated to avoid service cut-offs. Canadians are split on whether the devices are actually now less secure or not.
In a poll conducted for ITBusiness.ca by Delvinia Data Collection, about six out of 10 BlackBerry owners say they feel their smartphone has about the same level of security. About one-third of respondents felt their device was “slightly less secure” and just under nine per cent felt it was “much less secure.”
Canadians who don’t own a BlackBerry were more likely to say the smartphone are now less secure as a result of the government negotiations. Twelve per cent say BlackBerrys are “much less secure” and 28 per cent say they are “slightly less secure.”
One out of five poll respondents owned a BlackBerry device.
The poll results come after the Waterloo, Ont.-based cell phone manufacturer has been in one discussion after another with governments who want the ability to peep into messages of citizens using BlackBerrys. RIM has dealt with requests from countries including India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Assessing how BlackBerry security has actually been affected by the talks is confusing, says Danny O’Brien, internet advocacy coordinator with Committee to Protect Journalists. He’s been following the story and says users have to understand there’s two different groups of BlackBerry user – enterprise users and prosumer users.
Enterprise users have the benefit of controlling the infrastructure their BlackBerry devices communicate on. Companies with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server create their own encryption codes and even RIM can’t break those.
“RIM doesn’t have a good or easy way to intercept these communications,” O’Brien explains.
But consumers who buy a BlackBerry from a carrier for their personal use don’t enjoy that level of security, and never have.
“Those devices aren’t particularly secure, no more secure than your average iPhone or Android device,” O’Brien says.
The UAE in particular was interested in the ability to intercept BlackBerry PIN messages, which are more difficult to intercept than SMS messages. Though it’s not likely RIM will do this for the governments, it is more likely they’ll hand over the tools to make it possible.
“Governments are now getting more wise on how to break and intercept those communications,” O’Brien says.
So if you feel less secure about your BlackBerry communications and your device comes from a phone company, you may be right. But if your BlackBerry is issued by the company you work for, it’s probably just as iron-clad as ever.
This AskingCanadians poll of 1006 respondents was conducted for ITBusiness.ca. The data was collected from November 5th to November 8th, 2010. AskingCanadians is an online survey community with a panel of more than 160,000 members across Canada. Joining the AskingCanadians panel is free to Canadians who are in the age of majority in the provinces they reside, or have the permission of their parents or legal guardian. Qu’en pensez-vous is the sister community in Quebec. AskingCanadians is owned and operated by Delvinia Data Collection for more information go to http://www.delvinia.com/askingcanadians.