BlackBerry 10 devices win US security stamp

Security certification a rare victory for Research in Motion

Reuters Stewart Mitchell
8 Nov 2012

RIM says it has won the much-coveted US government security clearance for its BlackBerry 10 platform devices, which are due for launch early next year.

The company said its BlackBerry 10 platform has received the FIPS 140-2 certification, which would allow government agencies to deploy the devices, along with the new enterprise management platform to run them, as soon as the smartphones are launched.

RIM, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry, has seen its fortunes fade in recent years as Apple and Android-based handsets have led the way. RIM's fate now depends almost entirely on the long-awaited line of so-called BB 10 devices.

The certification is important because those government and enterprise companies using the devices rely on its security and encrypted messaging.

In its battle to remain relevant, the reputation for security has been a rare trump card, and although Apple's iPhone has won government contracts in the US it does not yet have the certificate itself.

According to RIM, this is the first time BlackBerry products have been FIPS certified ahead of launch.

Pre-launch clearance

"Achieving FIPS certification for an entirely new platform in a very short period of time, and before launch, is quite remarkable," said RIM's head of security certifications, David MacFarlane.

FIPS certification, which is given by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is one of the minimum criteria that is required for products used by US government agencies and regulated industries that collect, store, transfer, share and disseminate sensitive information.

The stamp of approval gives confidence to security-conscious organisations - including some of RIM's top clients such as government agencies - that the data stored on smartphones running BlackBerry 10 can be properly secured and encrypted.

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