BlackBerry 7 OS gets FIPS 140-2 certification

The BlackBerry 7 operating system has been given FIPS 140-2 certification, bringing BlackBerry smart phones in line with federal government security requirements, Research in Motion has announced.

The certification, covering the Federal Information Processing Standard for cryptographic modules, covers devices running BlackBerry 7 and 7.1. It was granted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Communications Security Establishment Canada, which jointly oversee the validation program.

The Federal Information Security Management requires FIPS 140-2 for mobile devices used in government enterprises, and agencies have been looking for ways to allow employees to use mobile devices, whether they are personal or agency-issued.

The Defense Department, for example, has been making a push for integrating Android devices into its networks, including on the battlefield, and has developed a secure kernel for the Android 2.2 OS, with FIPS 140-2 capability.

BlackBerry devices have long been favorites in government circles, particularly for their security features. But RIM has been losing ground to Android, Apple and other smart phones recently, and the company’s PlayBook tablet, released last year and seemingly designed for government users, has so far failed to make much of a splash.

The FIPS certification, which covers two or three models each of the BlackBerry Bold, Torch and Curve, could give RIM a boost. Last year, the BlackBerry 7 OS received Common Criteria EAL4+ certification — the highest level possible under that international standard — and the PlayBook tablet received FIPS 140-2 certification.


About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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