BlackBerry's deal to buy voice crypto company Secusmart blessed by German government

The deal will let BlackBerry step up its cross-platform push with better security

BlackBerry is now free to integrate German security vendor Secusmart's voice encryption technology on its smartphones and software, after the German government approved its acquisition of the company.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen still wants his company to be the first choice of CIOs that want nothing but the best security as he works to turn around the company's fortunes. The acquisition of Secusmart lets the company add the capability to encrypt voice and data communication to government security standards.

In this post-Edward Snowden world, cross-border acquisitions of security vendors have become even more touchy than before. Since Secusmart's technology is used by the German government -- including chancellor Angela Merkel , according to the company itself -- it was extra sensitive.

After careful consideration the deal has now been approved, and the German government has protected its national security with the help of a special treaty, a spokeswoman at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy said on Friday. She didn't elaborate on what demands the treaty puts on BlackBerry.

When BlackBerry announced the deal to buy Secusmart back in July, it didn't come as much of a surprise. The two companies had already been working intimately with each other on SecuSuite for BlackBerry 10.

The product was launched in March last year and encrypts both phone calls and data communications. It uses a microSD card for storing encrypted documents, and a smartcard chip that performs the encryption. The new BlackBerry Passport handset was added to the list of compatible products this month.

The acquisition doesn't just let BlackBerry integrate Secusmart's features on its own OS. It can also help BlackBerry advance its cross-platform push. For example, Secusmart has developed the Secure Call app with network operator Vodafone, which lets users make encrypted phone calls using Android-based devices and Apple's iPhones.

That part of Chen's turnaround plan has become increasingly important as sales of BlackBerry's own smartphones represented less than 1 percent of total smartphone shipments during the third quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. This month, BlackBerry also joined forces with Samsung Electronics to integrate BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) 12 with Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

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Tags business issuesBlackberrySecuSmartsecurityMobile OSesencryptionmobileMergers and acquisitions

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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