UK Government rejects BlackBerry 10 for not being secure enough [Update: refutes "false and misleading claims"]

BlackBerry executives will no doubted have quaffed plenty of champagne with the news last week that the company had secured its largest ever handset order, for one million BlackBerry 10 handsets, bringing a welcome boost of confidence to the fledgling platform.

But there’ll be no celebrations in the BlackBerry boardroom following an unwelcome assessment of the platform by the UK’s Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), which assesses the suitability of devices for use in official government activities.

The Guardian reports that the CESG has rejected BlackBerry 10 as not being secure enough, and that tests on the BlackBerry Balance software – which isolates work and personal accounts, apps and settings from each other – as well as on the underlying BB10 operating system, failed to meet the Group's requirements and standards for approval.

BlackBerry 7.1, the previous generation of the company’s OS, was approved in December 2012 for work involving government classifications up to the ‘Restricted’ level, something which BlackBerry was keen to highlight in a statement, in which it added that BlackBerry is the only mobile solution to have received that clearance from the UK Government. The company’s statement continued:

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 UK government.”

The news comes at an awkward time for BlackBerry, which is preparing to launch the Z10 in the United States later this week

Update: We've received an email from BlackBerry requesting we update the article with the information below.

First from an unnamed BlackBerry spokesperson:

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.

And the following from an unnamed GCHQ spokesperson:

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.

Source (excluding update): The Guardian | Image via BlackBerry

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Ha, Ha, Just had an update from bb and an official statement... Naughty, Naughty press, they are just caught up in the reclassification process like everybody else at this time:

“We have 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.”

Another biased incorrect article from the Guardian posted on Neowin. Shocking.

"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."

"failed to meet the Group's requirements and standards for approval."

ie Someone didn't fill out the right paperwork.

ahhell said,
"failed to meet the Group's requirements and standards for approval."

ie Someone didn't fill out the right paperwork.


RIM probably forgot to tick the "Secure" checkbox...

So will they stay on the previous BB or move to another "more secure" OS?

Every OS (mobile or not) has its flaws and I doubt BB can be any worse than the others?

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
So will they stay on the previous BB or move to another "more secure" OS?

Every OS (mobile or not) has its flaws and I doubt BB can be any worse than the others?


The fact that BB is not worse then others is why its the only mobile OS the UK government uses.
Still, I'm sure if they worked with Nokia, they could come up with a customised Windows Phone OS since Nokia have the rights to change it.

In the end though, it's a bit ironic that the government won't cert the latest BB citing not secure enough when their own general security is so poor anyway, but at least they're trying to get a handle on it.... no doubt we'll find all the email/phone& BB numbers as well as the passwords etc on a CD left on a train or 'missing' in the mail.

Well Gov. point of view it would actually be somehow a good idea to move to Nokia produced WP since Office (With Skydrive integration) is already included what makes life easier somewhat. But if WP is more secure than BB, not sure. That would be a hell of a lot customizing for Nokia to do so the phone would actually meet Gov. standards since I think they have some really strict rules.

Sky drive is a no, no for protectively marked data as it too would have to be certified by CESG and any data stored within that service must be located within the UK. Unfortunately or fortunately, when CESG do an assessment of the security characteristics of a product, the last thing they look at its convenience for its users, I can tell you that for nothing! However at this time I doubt that Win8 Phone is secure enough either, however I expect Microsoft will be addressing some of those concerns in future updates, well I hope they will!

amigaman said,
Sky drive is a no, no for protectively marked data as it too would have to be certified by CESG and any data stored within that service must be located within the UK. Unfortunately or fortunately, when CESG do an assessment of the security characteristics of a product, the last thing they look at its convenience for its users, I can tell you that for nothing! However at this time I doubt that Win8 Phone is secure enough either, however I expect Microsoft will be addressing some of those concerns in future updates, well I hope they will!

I'm sure for large corporate and government accounts Microsoft offers custom tailoring for Windows Phone just as they do for other products...

With that said, Windows Phone has a lot of security features, probably the extent of it would be limiting access to certain things (SkyDrive is a good example)...

Agreed, sky drive access i hope would be a configuration setting with intune, but then again CESG are more interested in the inherent security characteristics of the platform, not just the policy configurations that could be applied to a device. It takes about 8 months for certification so i guess we will know a bit more come June, July if we are lucky

BES for corporations is miles ahead of any other vendors products for legal and corp data compliance laws, always hase been (this is the REAL jewel in RIMS crown).
We (the company I work for in healthcare) have announced we are not supporting the Z10 for one massive reason. (this is a showstopper)

The Z10s need a new version of BES resulting in non-compatibility with the current BES which is deployed globally for our 10k BBerry users. That was the last straw from RIM for us.
Moving to Mass 360 and Android/ios devices for corp control and data control/remote corp data wiping in 2013, Blackberrys on BES have this function out of the box but sadly this new development is the final nail in RIMs coffin with my corporation.

While this pains me to say this (always been a supporter or RIM and Blackberrys in business) the last lot of preZ10 BBerrys have been cheaply built tat, and I aint forgiven them for the Bold 9780 flagship, most users are getting 3-5hours of battery life between charges......that's no dammed use for business. Why was it so poor and replaced uberquick?
Cos RIM cut corners to save costs on their flagship and fitting a joke of a battery and added NFC to sap the battery even further, overrated cheap tat these days.

RIM have rested on their laurels for years now and produced crap handset after crap handset (Storm, Torch, Pearl, Pearl II etc etc etc) anyone?? Sooner they go belly up or someone buys them over the better tbh.

Edited by Mando, Mar 20 2013, 6:47pm :