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iPhone erodes BlackBerry's last enterprise edge – security

Since its introduction to the mobile marketplace, the BlackBerry by Research In Motion (RIM) has been the go-to choice for government. When it first came out, the BlackBerry did what no other provider was doing: provide an e-mail and, later, a smart phone environment that was secure enough for agencies’ needs.

But lately times have changed.

The advent of secure cloud-based platforms has opened up the possibility for government use of other manufacturers’ smart phones, in particular Apple and Android devices. But people have continued to look to RIM, as the BlackBerry was considered a more secure device than its competitors.

But as bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives take hold, more and more government employees will want to use their iPhones and Android devices at work. And the people in charge of IT are seeing no reason not to let them.

As TechRepublic reports, the security features Apple has added to the iPhone since its 2007 debut — including 256-bit encryption, VPN support and limiting what apps can be accessed on the phone — is winning over IT administrators, who say the iPhone is now on par with BlackBerry on security.

Beyond BYOD, that’s good news for a number of government agencies that have adopted iPhones and iPads, among them the Veterans Affairs Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and, recently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Meanwhile on the Android front, in 2011 a research team from Google, George Mason University and the National Security Agency developed a secure kernel  for Android that would allow it on a classified network, and the Defense Information Systems Agency started certifying Android models for use in the military.

RIM can still pull this out, but it will be an uphill battle. The company needs to figure out a way to gain popularity in the commercial market, because it was this popularity with its competitors that got people looking at BYOD in the first place. At least the company was wise enough last year to roll out its new BlackBerry Enterprise Fusion system for managing mobile devices across multiple platforms, including Apple and Android.

Posted by Greg Crowe on Sep 20, 2012 at 9:39 AM


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