BlackBerry 10 hits delay in getting full security approval from UK government

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) denied reports that its new BlackBerry 10 platform  failed to meet security requirements for the British government. The company said that it is working with the UK government to get the new platform fully certified. 

The UK newspaper the Guardian first reported that the previous BlackBerry software version, 7.1, was cleared by the UK's Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) in December 2012 for classifications up to "Restricted," which is two levels below the "Secret" classification. The report said BB10 and its BlackBerry Balance feature, which segregates corporate and personal personas on BB10 devices, did not meet the same requirements and that BB10 had been "rejected by the British government as not secure enough for essential work."

However, both BlackBerry and the CESG denied that claim, and said that, essentially, BB10 had more steps to go through before it could be fully certified by the CESG. Blackberry pointed out that in November BB10 received FIPS 140-2 certification, which means that government agencies, including the U.S. government, could deploy BB10 and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10. The company has received a similar certification from the German government.

"Media reports alleging that BlackBerry 10 has been 'rejected' for UK government use are both false and misleading," the company said in a statement. "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. 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."

Further, BlackBerry said that changes to CESG's certification process have had "an impact on the timeline for BlackBerry 10 to receive a similar level of approval." However, the company said it is "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 UK government."

Separately a spokesman for the CESG told V3 that is having ongoing discussions with BlackBerry. "We have not yet performed a security evaluation 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 using Balance)," the spokesman said, according to V3. "We have a strong security partnership with BlackBerry and this gives us confidence that BlackBerry 10 is likely to represent a viable solution for UK government."

Security remains one of the hallmarks of Blackberry's platform as it tries to claw its way back into the smartphone market with BB10. BlackBerry said earlier this month it will launch a solution that will separate and secure work and personal data on mobile devices for third party platforms, including Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS. BlackBerry Balance does this for BlackBerry devices and is a core part of BB10. The new feature will be available by the end of June and will be managed through BES10, which already offer mobile device management capabilities for Android and iOS devices.

Still, Blackberry faces an uphill battle as it works to convince enterprise and government customers to transition to BB10." Although BB10 presents a modernized new platform based on touch technology, market conditions will make it extremely difficult for BlackBerry to rise above iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8 platforms," research firm Gartner said in a statement. "In fact, Gartner predicts that through 2016, BlackBerry will achieve less than 5 percent worldwide smartphone market share.

The first BB10 phone, the touchscreen Z10, went on sale a little more than six weeks ago. U.S. carriers plan to launch the Z10 later this month.

For more:
- see this Guardian article
- see this V3 article
- see this ZDNet article
- see this CNET article
- see this Engadget article

Related Articles:
BlackBerry wins order for 1M phones, touts new security features for Android, iOS
Report: Sprint to offer touchscreen BlackBerry 10 phone later this year
AT&T, Verizon to sell BlackBerry Z10 for $199, T-Mobile prices it at $249
Sprint will not sell flagship BlackBerry Z10 smartphone
BlackBerry seeing one-third of BB10 users switch over from other platforms
T-Mobile MVNO Solavei to offer BlackBerry Z10 for nearly $1,000