Sony Executives Switched to BlackBerry Phones after North Korean Cyberattack

One of the events of 2014 that will never be forgotten, is the North Korean cyberattack against Sony Pictures for releasing the Seth Rogen and James Franco film, The Interview. The hack resulted in everything from embarrassing emails to full feature films being released on the Internet.

Besides the attack itself, one of the most interesting stories to emerge from this news event is how Sony reorganized their internal communications system. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Sony created a “phone tree system” so information could be relayed between employees. This improvised communication system included employees’ personal Gmail accounts, phone calls, text messages and BlackBerry phones.

A forgotten stash of BlackBerry phones was found in the basement at Sony’s California headquarters, and quickly recommissioned. Because the BlackBerrys ran on a separate server, they were immune to the cyberattack which the FBI says came from North Korea. In a statement, the FBI said “no credible information to indicate any other individual is responsible for this cyber incident.”

Sony’s emergency switch to BlackBerry must have been music to BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Chen‘s ears. His current strategy for the company includes a focus on security to win government and critical business customers. US President, Barack Obama, is probably the company’s most famous phone customer. The extra security is the main reason why Obama is still a BlackBerry user.

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If BlackBerry is smart, they will be able to use the Sony cyberattack to gain ground in these target markets. Over the last decade, BlackBerry has gone from being the single dominate smartphone brand to now just under 1% market share as iPhones and Android devices have taken over.

“It took me 24 or 36 hours to fully understand this was not something we were going to be able to recover from in the next week or two,” Lynton told The Wall Street Journal.

The BlackBerry phone system is more secure because all data is encrypted and secured on the device. Additionally, BlackBerry has a network of secure servers that the company operates and maintains. This separate network adds an extra layer of security and prevents a hacker who might infiltrate a company’s network from taking down their email as well.