BlackBerry 10 may have strayed too far from its roots [updated]

BlackBerry 10 Security

BlackBerry 10 is a stark departure from BlackBerry 7 and other aging versions of the BlackBerry (BBRY) operating system, which is a very good thing in most regards. But in one key area, the company may have strayed too far from its roots. The U.K.’s Communications-Electronics Security Group, which evaluates IT solutions and determines whether or not they may be used by the U.K. government, has decided that BlackBerry 10 is not safe for essential government work, The Guardian reported. Earlier versions of BlackBerry’s OS had received security clearance. The report claims this rejection could cost BlackBerry millions in lost revenue, even if rival devices don’t fill the void — with tens of thousands of handsets currently deployed, the U.K. government is one of BlackBerry’s biggest customers in the U.K.

According to the report, BlackBerry 10 failed to gain “Restricted” clearance due to its Balance software feature, which separates work functions from personal functions. In a statement released after its new smartphones failed to receive government clearance, however, BlackBerry blamed a change in the approval process rather than any specific BlackBerry 10 features or functionality. The company’s full statement follows below.

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 current re-structuring of this approval process, due to the Government Protective Marking Scheme review and the new CESG Commercial Product Assurance scheme has an impact on the timeline for BlackBerry 10 to receive a similar level of approval. The U.S. government’s FIPS 140-2 certification of BlackBerry 10 and the selection of BlackBerry 10 by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) underline how our new platform continues to set the standard for government communications. 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 U.K. government.

BlackBerry did not indicate when it expects its new platform to receive government clearance.

UPDATE: BlackBerry has issued a new statement, posted below in its entirety, and The Guardian has taken down its story without providing any explanation.

Media reports alleging that BlackBerry 10 has been ‘rejected’ for U.K. government use are both false and misleading. BlackBerry has 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 current re-structuring of this approval process, due to the Government Protective Marking Scheme review and the new CESG Commercial Product Assurance scheme has an impact on the timeline for BlackBerry 10 to receive a similar level of approval. The U.S. government’s FIPS 140-2 certification of BlackBerry 10 and the selection of BlackBerry 10 by the German Procurement Office and Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) underline how our new platform continues to set the standard for government communications. 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 U.K. government.

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