BlackBerry 10 not secure enough for UK government workers -- yet (updated: GCHQ responds)

Hitting one of Blackberry's key markets in the British Isles, its new smartphone platform (and the Balance software that divides work and personal profiles on the Z10) hasn't passed the security rigors of the UK's Communications Electronics Security Group. According to The Guardian, handset contracts with the government and NHS total in the tens of thousands, while the older BB 7.1 passed the 'restricted' security level -- two levels below the presumably agent-friendly 'secret' level -- at the end of last year. The Canadian phone maker said in a statement that changes in the approval process had affected the time it's had to jump through the necessary security hoops, adding that BB10 has already passed similar US and German tests with flying colors. Blackberry added that it is "continuing to work closely with CESG on the approval of BlackBerry 10." Maybe hiring Adele for that creative director position would have made a difference, or not. We've added BlackBerry's full statement after the break.

Update: We've been sent another statement, this time from GCHQ. This is the organization above CESG and adds that it's still in discussions with BlackBerry about using BB10. It plans to issue "Platform Guidance" in the summer, which will deal with both the new OS and its Balance feature. "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." So don't count 'em out just yet, Bond.

Show full PR text

"Media reports alleging that BlackBerry 10 has been 'rejected' for U.K. government use are both false and misleading. 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. 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. 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."