Old BlackBerrys Came to Sony’s Rescue After Systems Hacked


JANUARY 01, 2015

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen holds up the unreleased Blackberry Passport device during the company’s annual general meeting for shareholders in Waterloo, Canada on June 19, 2014. (Reuters/Mark Blinch)

If there’s one company that’s gotten a bit of good press from the Sony hacking scandal, it’s BlackBerry.

The beleaguered entertainment company dug up old BlackBerrys to use after Sony’s computers and landlines went down and company e-mail was unusable after a cyber-attack that began last month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The emergence of the old devices as a haven for Sony executives has served as a free advertisement of sorts and bolstered BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer John Chen’s focus on security to win government and business customers. The fact that Sony had to unearth devices long relegated to storage also highlighted that BlackBerry’s share of the global smartphone market has fallen to less than 1 percent as iPhones and Android devices have gained ground.

“It’s proven that BlackBerry devices and the server are a lot more secure than any other solutions out there commercially available,” Chen said in a CNBC interview Dec. 19.

He declined to comment on whether Sony would have been protected against the hackers if it had been using BlackBerry’s services because he didn’t know the specifics of the attacks. Lisette Kwong, a spokeswoman for BlackBerry, declined to comment on whether BlackBerry is working with Sony to bolster security.

Encrypted, secured

Data on a BlackBerry is encrypted and secured on the device, and the Waterloo, Ontario-based company operates a network of servers on behalf of its clients.

The cyber-attack that crippled the computers at Sony’s entertainment division stemmed from the studio’s film “The Interview” — a farcical comedy about a US TV crew that is recruited to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

While it’s not completely clear who carried out the attacks or how they gained entry to Sony’s confidential documents and correspondence, the FBI has linked the hacking group to North Korea.

Amid the attack, Sony’s use of BlackBerrys served as yet another reminder that the company has been down but not out. The focus on preventing leaks and hacks has helped BlackBerry maintain a devoted following among heads of state, such as President Barack Obama, and celebrities like Kim Kardashian.