BlackBerry Z10 gets government-grade encryption from Secusmart

Security vendor Secusmart has developed an encryption card for the Blackberry Z10 device, making it the first smartphone to meet government specifications for classified security use.

"Until now, you could have a smartphone or a secure phone, but not both," said Dr Hans-Christophe Quelle, Secusmart's managing director.

Called SecuSuite, the card fits into the phone's microSD slot and includes both encryption technology and regular expansion memory, said its inventor Dr Christophe Erdmann.

He said it builds up on the partitioning technology within the smartphone called Blackberry Balance, which separates personal and business data from the hardware up and has already been approved by NATO and others.

He added that Blackberry Balance's top-to-bottom security model was an essential foundation for SecuSuite, and that he could not implement it on other mobile platforms as they are not as trustworthy.

SecuSuite encrypts all data on the Blackberry 10's business partition using 128-bit AES, including email, voice-over-IP, text messaging and calendaring, but does not affect anything on the personal side such as Facebook and Twitter.

You could, for example, have both work and personal Blackberry Messenger accounts, in which case it encrypts the former but not the latter, Erdmann said.

SecuSuite already has its first customer the German federal government.

A secure Blackberry Z10 incorporating the chip will cost around 2500 (2150), Quelle said. That might sound a lot the basic handset is around 500 SIM-free in the UK but today's secure non-smart phones are even more expensive, he added.