Is our security at risk when government agencies ditch BlackBerrys for iPhones?

Summary:The ATF announced they are switching from BB smartphones to the iPhone, following the announcement by NOAA that they are doing the same. Is security being compromised by these moves?

You may have seen some of my recent posts expressing my renewed enthusiasm for the BlackBerry PlayBook on the Mobile Gadgeteer blog, but I am still not yet back to using a BB smartphone and it sounds like more government agencies are making the switch to the iPhone too. The Politico writes that the ATF is moving from BlackBerry smartphones to the Apple iPhone in the next few months, following NOAA's recent strategy. This is not a huge blow to RIM considering that just 3,800 BlackBerrys are being swapped out by the ATF and about 3,000 by NOAA, but it is a trend they don't want to see spread to the more than 1 million other government customers.

An ATF spokesman stated that the decision for the move was primarily focused on functionality as they are looking for easier handling of video streaming, GPS navigation, camera usage, and more. I am not a security expert and do not work in the IT department, but my first concern for government agencies is security since they handle sensitive personal information in many departments and need to make sure devices can be managed and wiped with ease and reliability. The U.S. Air Force recently killed an iPad deployment plan due to security concerns.

I would have kept my Bold 9930 if my work had a BES, but without it I wasn't seeing the benefit of a RIM backend. The BB OS 7 devices are very solid smartphones and with new technologies such as BlackBerry Balance, RIM is working hard to satisfy the consumer and enterprise/government customer. Government agencies have spent millions on their RIM servers and I am not convinced they can get the same level of control and security on iPhone or Android smartphones. Do you think these agencies are making the right move or should they stick with BlackBerry smartphones?

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Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Hardware, iPhone, Mobile OS, Security, Smartphones

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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