BlackBerry 10 cleared for use by US government agencies

Information security
8 Nov, 2012

BlackBerry maker's forthcoming device gets security thumbs up from US government.

Research In Motion (RIM) has bagged US government security clearance for its yet-to-be launched BlackBerry 10 platform that is expected to hit stores in the first quarter of 2013.

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 new smartphones are launched.

Achieving FIPS certification for a new platform, before launch, is quite remarkable.

RIM, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry, has seen its fortunes fade in recent years as rivals Apple and Samsung have eaten into its market share with faster and snazzier devices.

RIM's fate now depends almost entirely on the long-awaited line of so-called BB 10 devices.

Last month, the company said it had begun carrier tests on the new line of devices, which the company hopes will help turn its fortunes around.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said this is the first time BlackBerry products have been FIPS certified ahead of launch.

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

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, and share sensitive information.

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

RIM promises that BlackBerry 10 will deliver a better user experience, along with the ability to separately manage both corporate and personal data on the same device.