NATO has selected BlackBerry’s encrypted voice technology to secure its calls, with its Communications and Information Agency (NCI) awarding a contract to BlackBerry’s “Secusuite for Government” platform, the company said today.
The NCI is the executive arm of the NATO Communication and Information Organisation (NCIO) and describes itself as “responsible for delivering the latest and greatest technology and services to the Alliance” and underpinning NATO’s ability to perform Article IV (consultation) and Article V (command and control).
“We needed a highly-secure way for our cyber leaders to have phone conversations with people inside and outside of our organization regardless of where they are in the world,” said Kevin Scheid, General Manager of the NCI Agency.
He added in a release: “BlackBerry’s voice encryption technology helps solve this challenge and strengthens our elite cyber-defence strategy.”
Blackberry NATO Contract: Product on NSA “Commercial Solutions for Classified Program (CSfC)” List of Approved Solutions
BlackBerry’s SecuSUITE for Government supports Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, and can be can be installed on-premise, in a data centre, or in the cloud.
The company said it offers the following solutions.
- Secure conferencing: encrypts conversations between a secure conference bridge and a SecuSUITE for Government-enabled device.
- Secure landing: encrypts mobile devices to a landline within a network.
- Break-in: protects any communication between a mobile or landline on the user’s home network to a SecuSUITE for Government-enabled mobile device.
- Break-out: secures mobile devices to the employee’s home network and from there to external mobile or landlines through PSTN extension.
Digging a little deeper into the technical specifications, a whitepaper [pdf] reveals that the systems architecture is set up so that every call securely negotiates a fresh pair of Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) session keys during call establishment at the beginning of each call, generating them in less than two seconds.
“The encryption methodology uses ephemeral-static ECDH with S/MIME enveloped data to protect the SRTP key. After key exchange (during secure call setup) SecuSUITE implements two separate SRTP session keys, one for uplink and one for downlink resulting in, End-2-End encrypted voice and messaging over SRTP.”
SecuSUITE for Government has been evaluated and certified to be compliant with the Common Criteria protection profile for VOIP applications and SIP servers. It has also earned a NIAP certification and has been placed on the NSA Commercial Solutions for Classified Program (CSfC) component list of products certified for us on classified systems. Additional services
“Eavesdropping on calls is one of the easiest ways to gain access to private information,” said Dr. Christoph Erdmann, SVP of BlackBerry Secusmart, BlackBerry.
“We are extremely proud that the NCI Agency, a world leader in the development and use of technology that keeps NATO nations secure, has put its trust in BlackBerry’s software to secure their voice communication. No matter the operating system or ‘thing’ used to communicate, BlackBerry’s arsenal of cybersecurity technology ensures our customers’ data remains private.”
Contract terms were not disclosed.
See also: Down to the Wire: Can this Encrypted Messenger Kill Email?