[silk] Blackberry in India

Gautam John gkjohn at gmail.com
Sun Sep 21 23:25:09 PDT 2008


At last, govt cracks BlackBerry code
22 Sep, 2008, 0121 hrs IST,Niranjan Bharati, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The government has decrypted the data on Research In
Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry networks. The department of
telecommunication (DoT), Intelligence Bureau and security agency
National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) have done tests on
service providers such as Bharti Airtel, BPL Mobile, Reliance
Communications and Vodafone-Essar networks for interception of
Internet messages from BlackBerry to non-BlackBerry devices.

Initially, there were difficulties in cracking the same on
Vodafone-Essar network but that has also been solved. This means that
the e-mail messages sent on Internet through your BlackBerry sets
would no longer be exclusive and government would be able to track

"Decompression is being tested in operator's network with three
successful testing on Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communication and BPL
Mobile," a source in DoT said. He, however, added that the solution
reached upon would not be shared with anybody including the national
telecom service providers like BSNL or MTNL. "The test is being
conducted wholly for non-enterprise solutions," he said. The Union
cabinet has also been apprised of the recent developments by the DoT.

Makers of BlackBerry set, RIM, could not be contacted for comment. An
e-mail sent in this regard the company did not elicit any response
till the time of going for press. An official in Vodafone-Essar,
however, on conditions of anonymity said that there has been
substantial progress in decoding the BlackBerry encryptions and DoT
has got success on decompressing the data on the networks of all the
major service providers.

The test would be conducted on all the network of all the BlackBerry
service providers and the service providers, on whose network the
interception does not happen smoothly, would be asked to make
technical changes in their services to make them compatible for
decompression. Decompression is the process of decoding information
with an aim to transfer the data to a different medium like data to
voice, data to video or data to text.

The DoT had earlier asked RIM to provide the master key to allow
access to contents transferred over their handsets. RIM had, however,
said that it could not handover the message encryption key to the
government as its security structure does not allow any third party or
even the company to read the information transferred over its network.

The BlackBerry issue surfaced earlier this year when DoT asked Tata
Tele-services to delay the launch of the service till appropriate
security mechanisms were in place. Currently, there are over one lakh
BlackBerry users in the country.

Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar and BPL Mobile
are offering this service in the country. Tata Teleservices has also
been allowed to offer the BlackBerry services recently.

Incidentally, Tata Teleservices launched the service after telecom
secretary Siddhartha Behura said that the government has no role in
stopping the company from offering the service.

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