by Al Sacco

BlackBerry 10 Has US, German Security Nod but No UK Okay (UPDATED)

Mar 20, 20133 mins
Mobile SecurityOperating SystemsSecurity

Reports suggest the United Kingdom rejected BlackBerry 10 for secure government use, but BlackBerry denies the claims and says the approval process is just taking longer than expected.

UPDATE: just posted the following comment from CESG: “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.”

BlackBerry’s new mobile computing platform BlackBerry 10 is secure enough for government use in the United States and Germany, but the United Kingdom has not yet given its thumbs up to the OS. BlackBerry 10 is currently being tested by the U.K.’s Communications Electronics Security Group (CESG), according to reports, but so far it has not passed muster.

BlackBerry Z10 smartphone security lock

From a report on

“The previous BlackBerry version, 7.1, was cleared by the UK’s Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) in December 2012 for classifications up to ‘Restricted’–two levels below ‘Secret’…tests on BB10 and the BlackBerry Balance software, intended to separate work and personal accounts and prevent any copying of data between them, have shown that it fails the same security requirements.”

In November, months before BlackBerry 10’s official announcement, BlackBerry said the new platform had already received FIPS 140-2 certification, which enables U.S. government agencies to deploy BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10. A month or so later, BlackBerry said that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency would begin piloting BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 in early 2013. And earlier this month, the news broke that the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) had selected BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 for “classified communications for the German government.”

As stated in the Guardian post, an earlier version of the BlackBerry OS, v7.1, gained the U.K. CESG’s approval in December 2012. BlackBerry says a change in testing processes has delayed the BlackBerry 10’s approval by the CESG, though the company thinks it will eventually get the okay.

From BlackBerry:

“[C]urrent re-structuring of this [CESG] 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…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.”

BlackBerry seems to be suggesting that the Guardian exaggerated the situation, and that it’s only a matter of time before BlackBerry 10 gets the U.K. security nod. Still, the delay is a significant speed bump on the road to BlackBerry 10’s continued enterprise dominance in the United Kingdom. The first BlackBerry 10 device, the Z10, has been available in the United Kingdom for more than a month.