BlackBerry first to secure U.S. DOD device management approval

The smartphone maker retains its security crown as it becomes the first mobile device management provider to be awarded an "authority to operate" on the U.S. Defense Dept. networks.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

In spite of its financial troubles and a recent mass exodus of executives, BlackBerry is clinging on to the smartphone cliff. No more so than in security, which continues to be the main (if not only) selling point of the beleaguered mobile maker in the face of rivals.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company announced on Thursday its BlackBerry 10 phones, including the touch-screen Z10 and the keyboard-enabled Q10, in conjunction with its mobile device management (MDM) service BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10, have been awarded an "authority to operate,"  the highest level of certification on U.S. Defense Department networks.

BES 10 is the first MDM solution for BlackBerry 10 on the market to receive such certification, the company said.

The U.S. Defense Information System Agency (DISA), the government's IT and communications support group, is now architecting its infrastructure to support 10,000 BlackBerry 10 smartphones by the third quarter, and by 30,000 by the end of this year.

Receiving the authority to operate is an important step for the overall certification process in order to get BlackBerry smartphones running on U.S. government and military networks. The award is in effect a governmental rubber-stamp to the level of security the service provides.

A BlackBerry spokesperson explained in an email to ZDNet: "DoD users can fully embrace all of the consumer features – applications, games, multimedia, social networking — while still having full access to their DoD email."

BlackBerry senior vice president Scott Totzke said in prepared remarks that the certification "further establishes" the company's "proven and validated security model."

BlackBerry 10 devices were already granted FIPS 140-2 certification for low-level secure transmissions last year, seen as a stepping stone to higher security clearances within the Defense Dept. But this news makes the overall ecosystem a far more attractive solution to buy into as a result of the device plus management combination.

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