Blackberries insecure?

alex at alex at
Thu Jun 21 11:54:34 EDT 2007


It could be that the linkage between user ids and auth keys is too weak,
allowing a MITM attack to be undetected that sniffs the data encryption
key. This seems to be common problem with many of the secure protocols 
I've examined.

- Alex

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Steven M. Bellovin" <smb at>
> To: cryptography at
> Subject: Blackberries insecure?
> Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2007 23:41:20 -0400
> According to the AP (which is quoting Le Monde), "French government
> defense experts have advised officials in France's corridors of power
> to stop using BlackBerry, reportedly to avoid snooping by U.S.
> intelligence agencies."
> That's a bit puzzling.  My understanding is that email is encrypted
> from the organization's (Exchange?) server to the receiving Blackberry,
> and that it's not in the clear while in transit or on RIM's servers.
> In fact, I found this text on Blackberry's site:
> 	Private encryption keys are generated in a secure, two-way
> 	authenticated environment and are assigned to each BlackBerry
> 	device user. Each secret key is stored only in the user's secure
> 	regenerated by the user wirelessly.
> 	Data sent to the BlackBerry device is encrypted by the
> 	BlackBerry Enterprise Server using the private key retrieved
> 	from the user's mailbox. The encrypted information travels
> 	securely across the network to the device where it is decrypted
> 	with the key stored there.
> 	Data remains encrypted in transit and is never decrypted outside
> 	of the corporate firewall.
> Of course, we all know there are ways that keys can be leaked.
> 		--Steve Bellovin,
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