The IM space is an exciting one to be part of these days. In recent months we’ve seen the spotlight placed on instant messaging apps and services, through huge acquisitions to new startups from around the world. In this same time frame, the BBM experience has continued to evolve in many great ways too. With new features like BBM Voice, BBM Channels and location sharing powered by Glympse®, our users are able to communicate, connect and share experiences like never before. The recent launch of BBM for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and announcement of BBM for Windows Phone® and Nokia X will bring these experiences to even more people around the world.
At BBM, we believe that just as important as what an app does is how that app does it. That’s why we want to spend a few minutes talking about security and privacy.
Not all IM apps are built secure. BBM is.
In talking to many users from around the world, we understand that many of them view ‘security’ as being outside their control – measures put in place by the service provider. When customers talk about ‘security’ concerns they often associate them with attacks by strangers. And while most users have not personally experienced a breach of security, a real fear exists out there of ‘what if’.
Recently, we’ve seen and heard about many security breaches in the news – from tens of millions of credit cards being compromised at large retailers to several million user accounts being exposed on other IM apps. This week we saw a report that talked about how other IM apps that store chats in the shared storage space of your smartphone could leave them vulnerable to compromise.
BBM has always put security at the forefront. On BlackBerry, the end to end security model is built on a foundation of secure hardware interacting with secure software. Security is reinforced at every level of the device from CPU to boot ROM, to OS and file system, and applications. The root of trust that BlackBerry builds for its customers remains unbroken throughout the chain, and is unlike other security models that rely on the interaction of components from multiple vendors. On Android®, BBM runs and stores all its data within the internal secure storage of the Android sandbox providing higher security than other IM apps that store their database in the shared storage space of the device. Similarly, on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, BBM runs and stores all its data within the iOS app sandbox.
With the introduction of BBM Enterprise (formerly known as BBM Protected) this summer, BBM will extend its leadership in secure mobile messaging. Developed for organizations in regulated industries, BBM Enterprise introduces additional layers of best in class security to protect messages in transit between employees within an organization. This means that once a message is encrypted on the sender’s device, it is never decrypted until it reaches the recipient’s device.
Openness and privacy should not be tradeoffs.
While customers suggest that ‘security’ is the responsibility of the service, ‘privacy’, is viewed as the responsibility of each individual. Privacy is seen to be within the user’s control, and subject to human choice – who you share with, what info you share, and how you choose to self-censor. Customers have been clear that they want and need features that help them take control over their privacy.
BBM has always come with privacy features built in. It’s in our DNA. The unique PIN number assigned to each BBM user allows them to choose to connect anonymously or without divulging details like their phone number or email address. The double opt in process for becoming contacts ensures that both parties are willing participants in the conversation and agree to let each other in to their respective inner circles. Furthermore, BBM has always made it easy to govern your contact list by allowing you to block and or delete contacts at any time.
Some will argue BBM should do away with privacy measures all together in the spirit of greater openness, but we have heard from customers that when implemented in the right way, privacy features offer greater discretion and freedom when using IM. With that in mind, we will continue to introduce new features which give users control over their privacy, but will do so in a way that encourages openness and fosters the building of a large and thriving BBM community. The ‘Find Friends’ feature provides a great example of striking a balance between openness and privacy.
To help you find and add BBM contacts, Find Friends helps identify contacts in your smartphone’s address book that are also using BBM and allows you to send them a private PIN invitation. When a match is found between a user in your address book and a BBM user, their first and last names are populated from your local address book using information you already have about that contact. You do not receive any additional personal identifiable information about the BBM user until such time as they accept your BBM contact invitation.
Our promise: security and privacy will remain integral to BBM
As we continue to bring new experiences to our customers you have our commitment that security and privacy will remain a top priority and an integral part of the BBM DNA. We will continue to innovate around making our service secure and allowing you the control over your privacy while introducing new experiences that will help you to connect and share with friends, family and colleagues in new and exciting ways.