updated 08:30 pm EDT, Tue March 19, 2013
New OS not able to advance further than BlackBerry 7 in certifications
BlackBerry's new BB10 software and hardware package has failed tests performed by the UK's Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) and will not be used for work above the "restricted" level, two levels below "secret." Allegedly, the BB10 and BlackBerry Balance software firewall -- which is intended to separate work and personal data -- does not adequately prevent the transfer of information between accounts.
BlackBerry has confirmed that the BB10 suite has not passed testing by CESG, but declined to provide a date for a revision to the software for resubmission. BlackBerry said in a statement: "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 Canadian company added that "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."
Contrary to BlackBerry's statement, Electronista has learned that Apple's iOS version 6 and above has also passed the requirements to be used for restricted-level data, but not with devices procured by the workers themselves or with devices intended to be used outside a secure facility.
The failure of the new BB10 OS to clear UK guidelines for secret document handling may be a blow to adoption of the ecosystem. BlackBerry boasts of US Government FIPS 140-2 certification for BB10, but it is a certification that iOS has held since 2010, giving it no leg up on its competition, but just maintaining parity. Additionally, more stringent BB10 testing by the US Department of Defense has been held up by the ongoing sequester, which is likely to contribute to poor adoption of the devices by the federal government.
BlackBerry has had some victories, though. CEO Thornston Heins is very pleased with initial sales numbers, and the company has recently trumpeted a million-device order from one of its existing partners, but declined to say who with.