BlackBerry has refuted claims that the recently released BlackBerry10 operating system has been ruled unsafe for essential government work in the UK, after failing to reach the necessary standards in UK High Security Testing.
Widely reported as another blow to the struggling smartphone manufacturer, the Canadian company has denied reports that its latest OS offering has failed government security testing, a stumbling block that would have resulted in missing out on any large-scale government orders that could revitalise waning sales figures.
“Media reports alleging that BlackBerry 10 has been ‘rejected’ for U.K. government use are both false and misleading,” an official BlackBerry spokesperson told TrustedReviews. “BlackBerry has 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.”
Now known to be falsified, it had been claimed that tests had been carried out by the UK Government’s high security testing agency, the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), which authorises hardware and software for use in official capacities. Back in December 2012, the BB 7.1 OS, the BB10 predecessor, was cleared by the CESG for classifications up to ‘Restricted’, which is two levels below ‘Secret’.
It had been suggested that CESG’s tests had showed that the BlackBerry Z10 hardware, as well as the BB10 and BlackBerry Balance software, which enables BlackBerry Z10 users to separate personal and work profiles on the handset, failed the security requirements to achieve Restrictive classification clearance. BlackBerry Balance was marketed to offer secure, switchable account management designed for business users, so the news that this isn’t quite the case should be quite an impact on the new OS.
Further refuting these reports, the BlackBerry spokesperson added: “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.”
Both the BlackBerry Z10 and the soon-to-launch physical QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry Q10 were launched to secure the company’s long-time loyal fan base, and recapture business clientèle lost to rival handsets like the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Outside the UK, BB10 and the BlackBerry Z10 have been approved by the US government’s FIPS 140-2 certification and are currently in use by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security.
“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.”
The BlackBerry Z10 is due to launch in the US next week, whilst the BlackBerry Q10 is set to ship in the UK from June.
Backing up BlackBerry’s claims, a statement from GCHQ added: “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.”
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