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BlackBerry 10 not yet secure enough for the UK government

BlackBerry Z10
Fort Knox or full of holes? BB10’s security is yet to be scrutinised by the CESG

​With the new BlackBerry Z10 not making the record sales its creators had hoped and penetration of the operating system it debuts: BlackBerry 10, still very small in comparison to its leading rivals, the company behind have to work hard to ensure that they can stay afloat on their new life raft. Based on that fact, recent news that the UK government had not deemed BB10 as secure enough for their use comes as yet another blow to BlackBerry’s standing in the smartphone market.

Unlike previous BB devices, the Z10 sports BlackBerry 10 – a completely reworked OS from the Canadian mobile giant which does away with the limitations of older OSs. That being said, by adopting the ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach to OS development, the company have had to rebuild their credibility in security and as it stands, the UK government have deemed this new OS unsafe for their use.

GSMArena explained that previously, the UK’s Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) had stated that devices running BlackBerry OS 7.1 were classed as ‘restricted’, just two tiers below their highest security level; ‘secret’. With BB10, CESG are yet to test it’s security and indeed new elements which may affect privacy and content control such as BlackBerry Balance. In an official statement, the group said:

Discussions with BlackBerry are ongoing about the use of the BlackBerry 10 platform in government. We have not yet performed an evaluation of the security of that platform, but we expect to be issuing Platform Guidance in the summer. This will cover a number of platforms including Blackberry 10 (and the use of ‘Balance’). We have a long standing security partnership with BlackBerry and this gives us confidence that the BlackBerry 10 platform is likely to represent a viable solution for UK Government.

So it’s not all doom and gloom, but simply that at present, BlackBerry need to work with the CESG to ensure that they can again be granted ‘restricted’ tier security on the new BBOS 10. BlackBerry statement on the matter can be seen below:

We have a long-established relationship with CESG and we remain the only mobile solution approved for use at ‘Restricted’ when configured in accordance with CESG guidelines. This level of approval only comes following a process which is rigorous and absolutely necessary given the highly confidential nature of the communications being transmitted. The current re-structuring of this approval process, due to the Government Protective Marking Scheme review and the new CESG Commercial Product Assurance scheme has an impact on the timeline for BlackBerry 10 to receive a similar level of approval. The U.S. government’s FIPS 140-2 certification of BlackBerry 10 and the selection of BlackBerry 10 by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) underline how our new platform continues to set the standard for government communications. We are continuing to work closely with CESG on the approval of BlackBerry 10 and we’re confident that BlackBerry 10 will only strengthen our position as the mobile solution of choice for the U.K. government.

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