BlackBerry 10 awarded security certification ahead of release

Research In Motion’s forthcoming BlackBerry 10 platform has received a welcome boost from US technology regulators, who have deemed the software secure enough for handling highly sensitive data.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has awarded BB10 the FIPS 140-2 certification, reports Reuters, allowing government agencies to use the OS immediately after release – expected in the first quarter of 2013. Regulated industries that manage, store and share sensitive data may also be encouraged to adopt the platform thanks to the accreditation.

"Achieving FIPS certification for an entirely new platform in a very short period of time, and before launch, is quite remarkable," said RIM's head of security certifications, David MacFarlane, in a statement. The company claims it is the first time one of its BlackBerry products has been FIPS approved in advance of its actual release.

The award will be greatly reassuring for the Canadian firm given the apparent wane of its corporate hegemony. Its reputation for security has long seen BlackBerry feature as the default smartphone in business and government, but RIM’s well-documented decline and an increasing openness to Apple and Android devices has impacted on BlackBerry’s dominance. There were fears that the UK government may drop the platform earlier this year, but the FIPS certification is likely to renew supply contracts for top clients on the other side of the Atlantic, at least.

Certain design features have nevertheless suggested BlackBerry 10 will be more heavily focussed on the consumer market, with touchscreen-only devices set to lead the early handset releases instead of corporate-friendly phones sporting a hard keyboard. ITProPortal’s James Laird is sceptical over RIM’s current strategy in the consumer arena, after the firm priced its new UK PlayBook tablet at over £400.