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Blackberry 10 handsets get the all clear from Department of Defense

Scores second big security win following US and Canadian government approval
Fri Mar 28 2014, 14:35
BlackBerry Z30 apps

THE US DEFENSE INFORMATION SYSTEMS AGENCY (DISA) has granted BlackBerry 10 (BB10) Full Operational Capability (FOC) to run on US Department of Defense (DoD) networks.

The FOC stamp of approval means government users with a Blackberry 10 smartphone connected with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) can securely access email, data, apps and other DoD network resources.

John Sims, president of Global Enterprise Services at BlackBerry, listed the accreditation as a key win for the company citing it as further proof BES10 is the most robust mobile security solution available.

"As the first mobile solutions provider to achieve FOC, BlackBerry continues to prove why we are the most trusted enterprise mobility platform," he said.

The DoD accreditation is the second big win for BlackBerry this week. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) approved its iOS and Android Secure Work Space mobile service for use by the US and Canadian governments mere days before.

NIST bestowed its hallowed Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification on Blackberry Secure Work Space after putting the iOS and Android security service through "rigorous testing" to verify that its encryption is robust enough to handle sensitive information at the highest levels of government.

Secure Work Place is a security service designed to let IT managers create a separate area on any iOS or Android device that's managed by Blackberry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10). It does this by encrypting information that is stored or passed through productivity apps like email, calendar and the web browser.

The service also enhances IT managers' powers over devices, letting them do things like track failed password attempts and disable certain apps or browser plugins.

Blackberry Security Group VP Scott Totzke listed the certification as a key victory for the company, citing it as proof that Secure Work Place is the ideal bring your own device (BYOD) solution for large enterprises and government agencies.

"Blackberry is considered the most trusted and secure mobile platform and we continue to provide customers with choice and flexibility without compromising security," he said.

"The FIPS 140-2 validation for Secure Work Space for iOS and Android demonstrates the multi-platform security capabilities that Blackberry delivers for customers, helping governments and enterprises alike to deploy third-party devices with more confidence and less risk."

Despite the positive news, the move could spell further doom for Blackberry devices. In recent years, sales of Blackberry handsets have rapidly dwindled as its traditional enterprise and government customer base has moved to adopt iOS and Android handsets. Aware of this, Blackberry has worked to counter the loss of interest in its hardware by releasing a number of its core services, like Blackberry Messenger, to Android and iOS - a move that has further diminished the appeal of its smartphones.

Totzke told The INQUIRER Blackberry's decision to roll out its security services to Android and iOS, despite the potentially negative effect on its own hardware sales, is based on feedback from its customers.

"Fundamentally it's because our customers are asking for it. There is no longer a one size fits all device and enterprise companies and government departments need a way to securely manage that," he said. "The summary here is that this is about our continued commitment to security."

Mobile network operator T-Mobile attempted to take advantage of consumers' dwindling interest in Blackberry devices in February when it promoted a $150 sale on the Apple iPhone 5S as "a great offer for Blackberry customers".

The negativity reached new heights earlier this month when, though it was later proven to be a rumour, reports emerged suggesting that US president Barack Obama was planning on ditching his Blackberry in favour of an Android smartphone. µ


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