BlackBerry 10 gets important US security clearance ahead of launch

As Research In Motion (RIM) executives count down the days to the launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform (though one wonders if they really know precisely how many days are left), the company has been pushing out a number of positive press releases recently in an effort to create a silver lining on the gray cloud that has been hanging over the firm for some time.

Last week it announced that development of BB10 had passed what it described as a “critical milestone” with news that it had entered lab testing with more than 50 carriers worldwide.

And on Wednesday evening it issued a statement saying its new BB10 smartphones and its Enterprise Service 10 management console had both received important Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 security certification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This is the first time BlackBerry products have been FIPS certified ahead of launch, the Ontario-based company said, and paves the way for US and Canadian government agencies to use the devices in their work.

Commenting on the news, Michael K. Brown, vice president of security product management and research at RIM, said, “Achieving FIPS 140-2 certification means that BlackBerry 10 is ready to meet the strict security requirements of government agencies and enterprises at launch.”

Talking up the security features of BB10, he added, “What differentiates BlackBerry is that it integrates end-to-end security, and includes certified encryption algorithms for data at rest and data in transit. No other mobile solution has achieved the level of security accreditation that the BlackBerry solution has.”

The certification is undoubtedly good news for the mobile company, though with several agencies in recent months announcing their intention to turn away from BlackBerry handsets in favor of iOS and Android-powered devices, RIM will have its work cut out to get them back on board. It must also work to hold on to those who have so far stuck with its devices.

Happily for RIM, last week the Pentagon said it would continue to support “large numbers” of BlackBerry smartphones even though it’ll also be allowing many of its employees to use the iPhone and other devices.

BlackBerry’s reputation for strong security was what until recently made RIM’s handsets stand out for those who required such features. But for many IT administrators working today, iOS and Android phones now offer more secure and manageable platforms.

RIM has been able to offer a few bits of positive news of late, but the real test will of course come when its new, long-awaited BB10 OS and handsets finally make an appearance.

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