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Cellcrypt brings voice call security to BlackBerry

Encryption tech offers interception protection

By CBR Staff Writer

UK firm Cellcrypt has expanded its encryption platform to cover BlackBerry devices, bringing secure voice call capabilities to the smartphone.

Voice protection services remain one of the few security features lacking on the BlackBerry and Cellcrypt believes its offering is the first of its kind.

The company will be targeting government and military organisations but claims that the service can be used by any executive that regularly discusses sensitive information during phone calls.

Cellcrypt Mobile for BlackBerry uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect the voice, which is transmitted over 2G, 3G and Wi-Fi connections. The company is in the process of acquiring FIPS 140-2 certification.

Simon Bransfield-Garth, Cellcrypt’s CEO, told CBR that previous voice encryption offerings were held back by usability and availability issues. “The quality of phone calls was poor and it was difficult to make international calls. The thing with this is that there is nothing special in the way it works,” he said.

The encryption is end-to-end so no information is held on a server and the encryption key generated when a call is initiated is deleted when the call is completed. No extra infrastructure is required and the user does not need a new BlackBerry handset.

Both the initiator and recipient of the call must have the software installed on their devices but calls can only be made through a separate Cellcrypt contact list.

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There is a short delay when talking on the current release, which Bransfield-Garth claims is a combination of the encryption technology working and a lag on the data network. The company expects the delay caused by encryption to be removed in the next update, expected later this month.

The company’s technology is already available on Nokia and Windows Mobile devices, but Bransfield-Garth said that support for Apple’s iPhone is not a priority as the company is targeting large governmental deployments.

The service costs $1,000 per user per year for small or medium deployments, which Bransfield-Garth estimates to be around 20 users. Prices for larger deployments have not been released.

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