A new report from Der Spiegel claims that the NSA not only is able to look into data contained inside a BlackBerry smartphone, but that it has been doing it for years. Der Spiegel notes that they have gained access to top secret documents wich explicitly comment on the NSA's ability to tap into user data from Apple iPhones, Android and even BlackBerry devices.
According to the leaked documents, the NSA has gone as far as creating separate working groups to focus on each operating system with the goal to gain access to contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and even geolocation information for specific users.
Unsurprisingly, the weakest link appears to be iOS. The document claims that the NSA can go as far as infiltrate the computer an individual uses to sync their iPhone. However, the document also mentions some of the difficulties the NSA has had in breaching BlackBerry devices. Specifically, a document dated from 2009 details how intelligence specialists were able to "see and read SMS traffic," but it also notes a period of time when the NSA was unable to access BlackBerry devices after then RIM acquired another company and changed the way they compressed data, eventually being able to gain access again in 2010.
There is also mention in the documents celebrating a successful breach of the BlackBerry mail system, one of the most secure in the industry, deemed by BlackBerry to be uncrackable.
When asked by Der Spiegel to comment about the report, BlackBerry officials said: "It is not for us to comment on media reports regarding alleged government surveillance of telecommunications traffic." Adding that the company had not programmed a "'back door' pipeline to our platform."
Der Spiegel reiterates that the documents they have seen does not support a mass violation of users privacy and that instead the attacks were targeted, and in some cases tailored to track specific individuals and without cooperation or knowledge from the smartphone makers.
It still remains to be seen to what extent BB10 devices are at risk of being tapped into by the NSA or wether BBM messages and other sensitive data can be intercepted. This untimely report comes at a very fragile moment for the Canadian company, which is currently looking for a buyer. Ironically this report surfaces months after BlackBerry partnered with Mozilla to fuzz for bugs and other online security threats and right after it announced becoming a part of the board for FIDO Alliance, which seeks to create a secure universal authentication for mobile devices.
Do you think this will impact BlackBerry negatively? Sound off in the comments.