BlackBerry launches Spark platform for secure connectivity, announces healthcare security products

BlackBerry' new healthcare-related security products include a blockchain system for medical data and operating system for secure medical devices.
By Laura Lovett
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This morning BlackBerry launched a new "Enterprise of Things" (EOT) platform called the BlackBerry Spark, as well as a slew of new healthcare related-products that will be powered by the system including a quantum-resistant code signing server, a new system that uses blockchain to deliver medical data and an operating system for secure medical devices. 

The quantum-resistant code signing server will allow software to be digitally signed and protected attacks powered by a quantum computer. While this new tool can be used in healthcare, it could see applications in a number of other settings as well.  

In addition to the signer, BlackBerry is also launching its secure medical data storage and transfer service, which will use the company’s network operation center to power a blockchain digital ledger and create a global ecosystem for sharing medical data. The new system will be first used by the Global Commission to focus on diagnosing kids with rare diseases. 

Finally, the company also showed off its operating system for medical devices, called the QNX OS for Medical 2.0. The operating system was designed to work with robotic surgical instruments, patient monitoring systems, infusion pumps and blood analysis systems. 

Alongside the product announced BlackBerry also announced two new deals. One with Mackenzie Innovation to study the new Spark system while the other is with the Melanoma Institute of Australia, where BlackBerry researchers are working on securely sharing research data in a regulated environment. 

Why it matters

The latest products all center around security in the medical field, which is a highly regulated industry. Providers and systems need to be able to show they are HIPAA compliant and meet all state and federal regulations when sharing patient data. 

“We are applying our expertise in security, data privacy and communication work in regulated industries such as automotive, financial services, and government to tackle one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry: leveraging healthcare endpoints to improve patient outcomes while ensuring security and data privacy,” John Chen, executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry, said in a statement. 

What's the trend 

BlackBerry has been in the healthcare space for sometime. Back in 2014 it made an investment in NantHealth, a cloud-based clinical decision support platform. In 2013 BlackBerry's Vice President for Global Sales Paul Lucier told MobiHealthNews that “healthcare’s an area we want to focus, whether it’s with tablet, smartphone and also our software.

Following this NantHealth deal, BlackBerry announced that it would be adding a genome browser app, powered by NantHealth, to its BlackBerry passport 

On the record 

“Quantum computing will solve groundbreaking problems in healthcare, transportation, astrophysics, government and many other fields; however, it also gives bad actors the potential to crack traditional public key cryptosystems and then attack the underlying data they protect,” Charles Eagan, CTO of BlackBerry, said in a statement. “By adding the quantum-resistant code signing server to our cybersecurity tools, we will be able to address a major security concern for industries that rely on assets that will be in use for a long time. If your product, whether it’s a car or critical piece of infrastructure, needs to be functional 10-15 years from now, you need to be concerned about quantum computing attacks.”

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