Just a few years ago, BlackBerry used to be the first thing that came to mind when the discussion turned to smartphones. Fast forward to 2015 and you can see how fast the mobile landscape can change – actually, BlackBerry (RIM or Research in Motion back in the day) had plenty of signs and the old 'writing on the wall,' but management underestimated the intelligence and resolve of smartphone buyers. BlackBerry was even slow to spread around their BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) app to the other platforms and by the time they did, it was like 'who cares' at that point – although they have been working on keeping BBM up-to-date by adding voice control and even making it available for Android Wear devices.
The new management is struggling to stay in business with something they do understand and implement very well – enterprise security. BlackBerry understands the importance of secure messaging and at this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) announced their new BBM Protected feature that gives you a way to send and receive secure messages with your customers, partners or clients. BBM Protected offers all the protection of an enterprise-grade secure messaging service with the convenience and features of a consumer Instant Messaging (IM) app and the ease of cloud service. BlackBerry Business Blog assures us that "All messages are encrypted using keys generated by the communicating mobile devices themselves. This BlackBerry innovation effectively prevents 'man in the middle' hacker attacks, providing greater security than competing encryption schemes and earning BBM Protected FIPS 140-2 validation by the U.S. Department of Defense."
BBM Protect is an extra subscription that goes through your current BES service from BlackBerry, although there is a 30-day free trial available. It will work with any Android smartphone running Android 4.0 or higher and with BBM 2.6 or higher. While it is easy enough to message securely within your own organization, you can also send out a BBM Protected message to a "non-Protected" party by having them download the free BBM app from Google Play or BlackBerry World. BlackBerry says, "Once the BBM Protected connection is established with the non-BBM Protected user, either user can initiate a secure chat environment at any time. Connect with your high-profile clients in a trusted environment, while offering a differentiator from your competitors with this new feature," and the screenshots are shown below.