BlackBerry 10 and BES 10 get NATO approval for 'restricted' comms

Despite its fall, BlackBerry's roots in secure communications are still serving it well in some markets.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

BlackBerry's future continues to look bleak, but it has clocked up a win consistent with its renewed focus on enterprise: its latest generation of hardware and services have become the first to secure NATO approval for "restricted communications".

According to BlackBerry, the certification means that agencies in NATO countries in 28 member states across North America and Europe can use BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 and BlackBerry 10 smartphones in the office or in the field.

The two join products join about 100 other communications and security products in the NATO Information Assurance Product Catalogue (NIAPC), which have been vetted to ensure they meet the required standards for use by NATO nations and NATO civil and military bodies.

Meanwhile, "NATO restricted" classification is a few rungs down from products that meet NATO's "COMSIC top secret" classification. Below that, products can be given approval for classifications including NATO secret, mission secret, confidential, restricted and unclassified.

While BlackBerry has suffered a tough time with its new BlackBerry 10 devices, the company has repeatedly pointed to BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 as an ongoing high point in its portfolio, claiming 25,000 test and commercial deployments globally. That, according to BlackBerry, reflects businesses' need for the cross-platform mobility management capabilities that feature in the product.

News of the certification follows one analyst at Gartner's advice to clients this week that they have about six months to work out a backup plan for their BlackBerry infrastructure — including both handsets and mobile data management systems made by the company — in the event it collapses. BlackBerry may have a future yet, however: last month a consortium headed by Fairfax Financial Holdings made a $4.7bn bid to acquire the company.

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