New BlackBerry OS gets crypto certification

Operating system for Torch and other models meets FIPS 140-2 requirements

The latest BlackBerry operating system from Research In Motion has been certified to the Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2, the required standard for cryptographic modules, clearing it for use within government.

BlackBerry 6 was introduced in August on the new Torch smart phone as RIM's answer to the increasingly popular Apple iPhone and Android-based smart phones. It received Level 1 FIPS validation Nov. 29, using encryption algorithms including Triple Data Encryption Standard and the Advanced Encryption Standard.

BlackBerry encrypts data between the end-user device and the BlackBerry Enterprise server using AES or Triple DES. Cryptographic services are provided by a cryptographic kernel on all Java-enabled BlackBerry smartphones. All encryption products used in government must be validated to FIPS 140-2 under the Cryptographic Module Validation Program, administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Validation is done by independent accredited laboratories.

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FIPS validation is important for BlackBerry, which has a leading share of the smart phone market and has become the de facto standard for remote e-mail access by government employees. The BlackBerry operating system received its first FIPS validation in 2003 on version 3.3.

BlackBerry 6 was introduced on the new Torch smart phone and is optimized for Web browsing, managing social feeds and text messaging, and multimedia. The OS also ships on the new BlackBerry Bold 9780 and BlackBerry Style smart phones and, pending carrier certification, also can run on the Bold 9650, 9700, Curve 3G and Pearl 3G BlackBerry smart phones.

Version 6 does not work on the company’s Storm and Storm2 smart phones, however.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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