Security agencies warn against use of Blackberry without check

Security agencies warn against use of Blackberry without check
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First Published: Mon, Apr 07 2008. 03 07 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Apr 07 2008. 03 07 PM IST
New Delhi: Amid a raging controversy over security issues concerning Blackberry services, security agencies have warned that the technology could come handy for anti-national elements if there is no effective content monitoring mechanism.
While the Telecom Ministry and cellular operators are trying to hammer out differences over the issue, the security agencies have submitted a report to the Union Home Ministry about the abuse of the new technology by some terrorists modules and hawala operators.
The sources said government has already asked telecom companies to make possible monitoring of content transmitted through Blackberry or stop the service as it was causing a major security breach.
During their introduction in the Indian telecom market, the company had been asked to keep in place a mechanism which would enable security agencies for a lawful interception of the data being transmitted through the instrument.
However, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) was the first to bring out difficulties being faced in monitoring data out of Blackberry as they were unable to decipher the content because of packaging of the data in encrypted form which could not be deciphered.
The encrypted data packets were sent through with the technology that were password protected with the help of “Public Key” (customer code) and “Private Key” (company code) that the packets could not be downloaded as they were password protected.
During a reverse check, it was found that the Blackberry did not have its server in the country and in order to get an information, a tedious legal procedure needed to be followed.
The security agencies, besides other things, suggested that the server of the Blackberry needed to be installed within the country to prevent its misuse.
When contacted, a spokesperson of RIM, licensor of Blackberry services, told PTI that RIM operates in more than 130 countries around the world and follows the regulatory requirements of governments. RIM does not comment on confidential regulatory matters or speculation on such matters in any given country.
The sources said the company officials informed during negotiations to the telecom officials about the responsibility of secrecy of the “Private Keys” in case they are leaked out, as has been the case in past.
The services could come handy for tech-savvy militants who could converse using the round-the-clock connectivity to internet without having the fear of being intercepted.
The Blackberry services converts the E-mail into short messaging service on this handset.
Earlier, the department of Telecom had issued a directive to service providers to work out with officials of Blackberry licensor Research in Motion (RIM) of Canada to provide fool-proof security system in the country.
Currently, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar, BPL Mobile and Reliance Communications are offering this premium service. According to sources, most of the high-end users of these companies have shifted to Blackberry services.
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First Published: Mon, Apr 07 2008. 03 07 PM IST