Blackberry wants to secure the ‘internet of things’

BlackBerry is at CES in Las Vegas this week promoting itself as the business that can bring safety and security to the internet of things (IoT).

The market upside seems huge, with billions of connected devices coming online—from home security, to health trackers, smart speakers, cars, etc.—many of them susceptible to hackers in potentially scary ways.

To underline that point, BlackBerry put out one of those brand-commissioned polls showing that consumers want what it is selling. In this case, 80% of respondents don’t trust their current internet-connected devices to secure their data and privacy. And 82% said they would support a stamp or seal of approval to designate a security standard.

BlackBerry wants to be the seal of approval for the IoT, and it makes sense for the brand which ruled the mobile world before iPhone came along. After a series of crushing financial losses, BlackBerry finally exited the hardware space in 2016—years after ceding its leadership position to Apple and a host of challenger brands. However, experts say that is longstanding reputation for security (its phones were long regarded as the most secure on the market) could be a major boon in the IoT safety space.

“Everyone looked at BlackBerry as the most secure phone you could buy,” Jack Gold, a principal at J. Gold Associates, which analyzes the IoT market, told CNET. “They would like to leverage that label into the internet of things world.”

“Similar to the rise in demand for organic food and sustainable goods, we believe that educated consumers—many who have been victims of cyberattacks and uninvited use of personal data—will help drive the private and public sectors to align on a safety and security standard,” said Mark Wilson, chief marketing officer at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry is talking up its BlackBerry Secure feature pack in Vegas. We’ll avoid going too far into the technology weeds here, but the point is this: BlackBerry wants to become the industry benchmark for safety and security, offering to send its cybersecurity experts to visit with manufacturers, review the devices they produce, and give them a BlackBerry Secure stamp of approval.

“This new service is a pivotal point in the company’s software licensing strategy and underscores BlackBerry’s evolution from providing the most secure smartphones to delivering the trusted security for all smart ‘things’,” said Alex Thurber, BlackBerry’s senior vice-president and general manager of mobility solutions.

David Brown