BlackBerry’s BES encryption cracked by U.S. spies

Documents leaked by former United States security contractor, Edward Snowden, indicate that American intelligence operatives were able to decipher messages sent using BlackBerry Ltd.’s mobile messaging software, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).

The internal U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) documents said that since 2009, the agency has been able to see and read text messages sent from BlackBerry smart phones, according to reports from the German news magazine Der Spiegel.

Among the documents was an NSA presentation entitled: Your target is using BlackBerry? Now what?. The document showed an image of a Mexican government email.

Various governments have been demanding that BlackBerry (TSE:BB) provide them access to encrypted messages transmitted by the company’s email and the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.

The leaked documents showed no indications of any large scale snooping on smart phone user, according to Der Spiegel.

The magazine said that the NSA has in the past been able to obtain data from “targets” using Apple Inc.’s iPhone handsets using iOS versions 3 and 4.

Der Spiegel said the NSA hacked a target’s computer to download the backup copies of data such as photos and mobile contacts synchronized with the iPhone. This enabled the NSA to access data logs showing locations where the iPhone was in the last seven days.

Apple has stopped storing this log when it came out with version 4.3.3 of the iOS, said Der Spiegel.

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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