BlackBerry 10 Gets Defense Department Approval

BlackBerry becomes first mobile vendor to get full operational authority to run on DOD networks.

Elena Malykhina, Technology Journalist

March 28, 2014

3 Min Read

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The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has granted the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system "full operational capability" to run on Department of Defense (DOD) networks.

BlackBerry becomes the only vendor to receive the full operational authority, which marks the completion of its security certification process with the DOD. This means testing has been completed and government employees can begin securely using BlackBerry 10 smartphones connected with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 to access email, data, and apps on defense networks.

BlackBerry 10 comes with a feature called BlackBerry Balance. It safeguards and separates work data from personal data, and allows users to switch between work and personal profiles. BlackBerry 10 smartphones are the first DOD-approved devices with such a capability, the company said.

[It's been a busy time for DOD security approvals. Also announced this week: Amazon Cloud Services Wins DOD Authorization.]

"BlackBerry worked side-by-side with DISA to help certify the BlackBerry 10 solution, offering the US government an end-to-end mobile infrastructure that does not compromise on security and provides the most productive and collaborative mobile experience," John Sims, BlackBerry's president of global enterprise services, said in a statement released Thursday.

The announcement  came a day after BlackBerry's Secure Work Space for iOS and Android received Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 certification. The validation is issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to certify products that collect, store, and transfer sensitive government information. BlackBerry products are protected by AES 256-bit encryption, a highly secure data protection standard, according to the company.

Secure Work Space allows users with Apple iOS or Google Android devices to access their email, calendar, notes, tasks, and contacts via a secured application. For instance, it doesn't permit users to copy and paste corporate data into personal apps. Secure Work Space is managed through Enterprise Service 10, a mobile device management console. Administrators have the ability to configure, secure, wipe, and interact with data in the Secure Work Space on a device.

Last May, the DOD approved the use of BlackBerry Z10, Q10, and PlayBook on its networks. Both the Z10 and Q10 run the BlackBerry 10 operating system. Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets joined the list of authorized devices that could be used by government workers and military officials. Later that month, Apple also got the green light from the DOD for its iOS 6-based devices.

Now with full operational capability, BlackBerry entered the final step in the DOD's security certification process, signifying that the BlackBerry 10 platform -- both smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 -- can be activated within the DOD security infrastructure, said a BlackBerry spokesperson. It builds on BlackBerry's authority-to-operate certification received in August 2013.

Find out how a government program is putting cloud computing on the fast track to better security. Also in the Cloud Security issue of InformationWeek Government: Defense CIO Teri Takai on why FedRAMP helps everyone.

About the Author(s)

Elena Malykhina

Technology Journalist

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she followed the world of advertising. Having earned the nickname of "gadget girl," she is excited to be writing about technology again for InformationWeek, where she worked in the past as an associate editor covering the mobile and wireless space. She now writes about the federal government and NASA’s space missions on occasion.

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