BlackBerry to get S/MIME security

BlackBerry to get S/MIME security

BlackBerry handheld devices used in the military services can get a government-specific Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions protocol upgrade of their software under a National Security Agency contract with the devices' maker, Research In Motion Ltd.

Mike Lazaridis, president of the Waterloo, Ontario, company, said Defense Department users of the BlackBerry 957, 5810 or 6710 handhelds would pay undisclosed licensing fees for the S/MIME public-key cryptography upgrades from NSA. He declined to give the value of the development contract.

The software upgrade will encrypt messages and attachments to and from a user's desktop system and a synchronized BlackBerry, under a second password for that user's existing DOD digital certificate. The BlackBerry already has Triple Data Encryption Standard e-mail protection and Federal Information Processing Standard 140-1 certification, Lazaridis said. S/MIME will extend that security by guaranteeing user-to-user authorship over different e-mail systems, he said.

The encrypted messages cannot be viewed in the device's in-box without the second password, Lazaridis said. A color BlackBerry screen is under development.

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