BlackBerry aims to keep the Internet of Things safe, AT&T hops on data rollover bandwagon

Industries Associated Press

BlackBerry says it will use its expertise in secured messaging services to offer new ways for cars, home appliances and other devices to communicate with each other while keeping data secure and private.

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In the emerging field known as the Internet of Things, everyday products have sensors and Internet connectivity so they can think for themselves and take action autonomously. The problem is that if the system isn't secure, hackers might fool a "smart" door lock into opening, for instance. Or hackers might tap into a connected fitness tracker to obtain sensitive heath data.

So BlackBerry is opening its data centers and other technologies to businesses needing such security. BlackBerry already is well regarded in corporate circles for providing security in phones, email and other messaging services.

"We have a combination of knowledge, process and experience, which we combine to provide complete security," Sandeep Chennakeshu, president of Blackberry Technology Solution, said in an interview after Wednesday's announcement.

He said customers would have complete control over data, including who gets access to which information. Someone might want to share a week's worth of heart-rate data with his or her doctor but not the insurance company, for example. What if the customer is a company? In the case of a car, the manufacturer would decide what data a mechanic or car insurer could see.

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AT&T is joining T-Mobile in offering to let customers roll over unused cellular data allotments.

Historically, customers lose what they don't use at the end of their billing month. Under T-Mobile's new plan, customers would be able to stash what they don't use for up to a year. It's reminiscent of the days before wireless companies offered unlimited voice calls; some carriers offered to roll over unused minutes into future months. The T-Mobile program is open only to customers on Simple Choice plans with at least 3 gigabytes for a smartphone or 1 gigabyte for a tablet.

AT&T says its offer is open to all of its family Mobile Share Value plans, not just the larger ones. However, the leftover data must be used within the next month, rather than a year as T-Mobile offers. Customers on individual and older AT&T family plans aren't eligible.