Apple won't steal our govt share: RIM

Summary:The government has certified Apple's iOS for accessing information up to a Protected level, but RIM's senior vice president of BlackBerry security Scott Totzke claims that RIM's devices have what it takes to fight Apple in its government stronghold.

The government has certified Apple's iOS for accessing information up to a Protected level, but RIM's senior vice president of BlackBerry security Scott Totzke claims that RIM's devices have what it takes to fight Apple in its government stronghold.

(BlackBerries image by Enrique Dans, CC BY 2.0)

RIM has traditionally been the only provider able to meet the Federal Government's security requirements until this year, when Apple achieved certification for its latest operating system.

However, Totzke, who spoke to a panel of reporters at BlackBerry World 2012 in Orlando, Florida, earlier this week, is confident that BlackBerry has the goods to snag government interest.

"I do think we're going to compare pretty favourably [to Apple's products], not just from a security standpoint, but from a feature set, with what iOS delivers today [now sitting] between PlayBook 2.0 and where BlackBerry 10 goes. I think other than the mass consumer marketing appeal, from an enterprise standpoint, you're going to get a enterprise-class manageable secure device, plus you're going to get a lot of the consumer features and functionality in a platform that is still going to meet your security management needs," he said.

RIM has already begun the process of gaining certification for BlackBerry 10 and the latest PlayBook, something that he said is a constant process for the company. More specifically, the company's Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) validation for its devices is already under way, and its previous work with the Common Criteria program means that certifying the latest PlayBook will only require an incremental amount of effort, compared to evaluating from scratch.

He said that the most important thing when proving security credentials is being transparent, an area that Apple has been accused of falling short in.

"I think it's critical that vendors selling security feel like they can step up and say, 'I'm going to submit to whatever testing is required to prove to security that we actually meet the claim, and that it's a part of our heritage and it's not going to change'," Totzke said.

He revealed that RIM seeks feedback for the security in its products by inviting government personnel into its own facilities.

"We actually bring the government intelligence guys to our headquarters in Waterloo, and walk through at an engineering level, implementation [and] security features to have them comment and also review."

In particular, Totzke said that there are dedicated resources set aside to assist the Australian Government's Defence Signals Directorate (DSD); RIM provides DSD with its new technology before it is made available to anyone else.

"I've got a guy in Canberra whose full-time job is to work with folks at DSD and make sure they get their questions get answered and provide them with early access to technology."

Although certification, like that required for government use, can take time, as pointed out recently by Stratsec's chief technology officer Nick Ellsmore and as shown by Apple's own year-long certification process, Totzke said that RIM's long history of working with certification organisations speeds up the process for the company.

Topics: BlackBerry, Government, Government : AU, Mobility, Security

About

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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