Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry is the latest Android-phone maker to commit to releasing monthly security patches for its devices to resolve vulnerabilities discovered in the popular mobile operating system.
The struggling smartphone maker announced its plans in September to sell the Android-powered PRIV smartphone in an effort to recover from slowing device sales.
The PRIV smartphone is expected to start shipping the week of Nov. 9, 2015.
In August, Google announced plans to release monthly updates to patch newly discovered security flaws in the Android platform, and vendors such as Samsung and LG have confirmed plans to follow Google’s lead. The Internet giant releases a security bulletin containing a list of new flaws to Android OEMs, and makes them public approximately one month later, when it releases its own set of updates.
BlackBerry says it will focus on pushing the security patches before Google makes them public, and plans on having all BlackBerry PRIV devices purchased through shopblackberry.com immediately updated. Additionally, the company will release the updates to PRIV resellers (carriers and other authorized dealers) participating in the monthly update program to approve and push them over-the-air (OTA) to subscribers.
In case of critical Android vulnerabilities that cannot wait for a monthly update cycle, BlackBerry will opt to release a hotfix, though the severity of the issue, the complexity of the fix, and the timing relative to the monthly update cycle will influence that decision. The company will directly patch all PRIV variants when necessary to protect users and enterprises, David Kleidermacher, Chief Security Officer at BlackBerry, noted in a blog post.
The smartphone designer will also provide IT managers with increased control over OS updates through BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and OTA management systems.
“Setting the bar in incident response and patch management is a critical part of the BlackBerry end-to-end Android privacy strategy,” Kleidermacher concluded.
A series of critical vulnerabilities discovered in Android this year prompted an industry-wide response to release security updates sooner, starting with patches for the infamous Stagefright flaw discovered in July. To further improve the safety of the mobile platform, Google last month announced mandatory full-disk encryption for Android 6.0 Marshmallow devices, a feature that BlackBerry PRIV users can also take advantage of.