RIM Receives US Government BlackBerry 10 Security Clearance

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BlackBerry 10 aims to retain security-conscious customers with FIPS 140-2 certification

RIM’s BlackBerry 10 has been granted security clearance by the US government, paving the way for smartphones running the operating system to be used by government agencies from its launch day, expected early in 2013.

The Canadian manufacturer has received FIPS 140-2 certification for the upcoming operating system as well as BlackBerry Enterprise 10, its new mobile enterprise management solution.

The company says that this is the first time that its products have been granted such certification ahead of launch, indicative of its desire to retain the US and Canadian governments as customers when BlackBerry 10 debuts in the first quarter of 2013.

BlackBerry 10 security clearance

“Achieving FIPS certification for an entirely new platform in a very short period of time, and before launch, is quite remarkable and a testament to the dedication of our security team,” said David MacFarlane, Director, Security Certifications at RIM. “BlackBerry 10 will deliver security, a superior user experience, the ability to separately manage corporate and personal data on the same device, and ease of manageability for IT managers in an enterprise or government environment.”

The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) is used by security-conscious organisations, such as the public sector, companies in regulated industries and other firms that deal with sensitive information. FIPS 140-2 is the minimum criteria required for products used by US government agencies.

“Achieving FIPS 140-2 certification means that BlackBerry 10 is ready to meet the strict security requirements of government agencies and enterprises at launch,” said Michael K. Brown, Vice President, Security Product Management and Research at RIM. “What differentiates BlackBerry is that it integrates end-to-end security, and includes certified encryption algorithms for data at rest and data in transit. No other mobile solution has achieved the level of security accreditation that the BlackBerry solution has.”

Declining government use

BlackBerry has long been favoured by US government agencies as they meet their strict security requirements, but this advantage has been eroded by rival platforms who have improves security standards, while BlackBerrys have become increasingly undesirable.

Last month, the US Immigration and Customers Enforcement Agency (ICE) announced it was going to end its contract with RIM and supply its 17,600 employees with iPhones in an order estimated to be worth around $2.1 million (£1.3 million).

ICE said that although it had relied on RIM for eight years, the BlackBerry platform was no longer suitable for its needs. The iPhone was chosen as it offers a secure and manageable platform with tight controls on the operating system. Last week, the Pentagon invited companies to submit bids to provide software that can monitor, manage and enforce security requirements for iPhones and Android smartphones.

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