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March 20, 2013

BlackBerry 10 Fails to Meet U.K.’s Security Requirements: News Report

Editor’s note: Since this story was published, it has come to light that the report by The Guardian cited in this story, and picked up by news outlets around the globe, was erroneous. BlackBerry 10 has not been rejected by the U.K. In fact, the platform will not be run through security tests until this summer. Click here to read the updated story.

BlackBerry has always been known for its top-notch security, but the U.K. government has said the Canadian company’s new Smartphones, the Z10 and Q10, fall short of its security needs.

The U.K.’s Computer Experts Security Group (CESG) has said the handsets are simply not secure enough for sensitive government work, according to The Guardian.

While previous BlackBerry devices have passed the exacting guidelines of the CESG, the recently-released BlackBerry 10 operating system must still meet the U.K.’s security standards.

BlackBerry 7.1, for instance, was given the greenlight by the CESG in December 2012 for ‘Restricted’ level use.

According to The Guardian, tests on both BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Balance, software that allows its users to separate work and personal accounts, failed the requirements passed by version 7.1.

The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10.

The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10.

Balance also enables its users to carry out encrypted communications such as voice calls, text messages, Internet searches, e-mail and authorized app usage.

The Guardian reported BlackBerry has confirmed BlackBerry 10 has yet to pass CESG standards.

With BlackBerry hard at work on revising its software, however, it is possible an update to its operating system will meet the U.K.’s needs.

Although the Z10 and Q10 have been rejected by the U.K., the German government has signed on with the Canadian firm.

BlackBerry is to supply German ministries and federal agencies with 5,000 Z10 Smartphones.

Until BlackBerry launched the Z10, the company had no devices approved by the German Federal Office for Information Security. This is because BlackBerry stored and managed all data on servers in the U.K., which, potentially, left Germany open to foreign intelligence agency eavesdropping.

With the Z10, however, decentralized networks can be used for data storage and management. The devices will be used with Secusmart’s Secusuite security solution installed.

BlackBerry devices have long been the preferred mobile phones for government workers because of their high security thresholds.

The company secured a key U.S. government security clearance last fall. BlackBerry said last October its BlackBerry 10 received it U.S. Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) certification. Translation: the devices can be used to send classified data between government employees. The certification could pave the way for the BlackBerry 10 to be the device of choice for the feds. So far, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has has confirmed it will give BlackBerry 10 a shot — a decision that could influence other government agencies to follow suit.

The BlackBerry 10 is seen as the beleaguered Waterloo, Ont. company’s last chance at redemption. BlackBerry’s devices dominated the market at one time, but have since fallen victim to Apple’s iPhone and Samsung devices powered by Google’s Android operating system. With a net loss of $235 million in the last quarter, BlackBerry desperately needs the Z10 and Q10 to be a success.