Research In Motion’s upcoming BlackBerry 10
platform has been given a top security certification by the U.S. government before the company’s next-generation devices hit the market.
The company said Thursday that BB10 meets the Federal Information Processing Standard FIPS 140-2 certification, meaning government agencies that want to deploy the new smart phones and BlackBer4ry Enterprise Service 10 can do it as soon as they are released.
RIM has said BB 10 devices will be out some time in the first quarter of next year.
Canadian government departments follow the FIPS standard, as do a number of corporations.
However, certification doesn’t mean that staff at government departments will actually chose the devices. Those who have to have handsets that meet the FIPS 140-2 standard will, but the rest don’t.
Last month ComputerWorld U.S. reported that more than 17,600 users in U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) are being moved from their BlackBerry devices to Apple's iPhone.
That follows a trend in the past year where organizations increasingly are allowing staff to chose their own devices for work rather than insist on standardizing on the BlackBerry platform.
Still, “it’s a big deal,” said Carl Howe, a mobility analyst with Yankee Group. “The certification is hard to get,” and staff that are mandated to have secure devices is RIM’s core market.
The FIPS certification on BB 10 wasn’t unexpected – virtually all of RIM’s handsets and PlayBook tablets have it. But, Howe pointed out, if BB 10 didn’t pass the test, a number of agencies would have essentially said BB 10 isn’t complete.
"Achieving FIPS 140-2 certification means that BlackBerry 10 is ready to meet the strict security requirements of government agencies and enterprises at launch," Michael Brown
, RIM’s vice president of security product management and research said in a statement. "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."
As for when BB 10 devices will actually hit the market, Howe believes it won't be before the end of January. Developers have until then to get their BB 10 devices finished and submitted to RIM for inclusion in BlackBerry App World.