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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BlackBerry 10 OS fails UK government security test

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In recent years, BlackBerry has undergone a major decline. Once the de facto smartphone of choice for businesses, BlackBerry devices have lost much of their influence and presence in the corporate world. To a significant degree, this trend is attributable to the rise of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Companies are increasingly allowing employees to use their personal smartphones and tablets to conduct business, and these workers largely seem to prefer Android and Apple products over BlackBerry.

Soon, BlackBerry will release its latest operating system, BB 10. The company has indicated it hopes this offering will help to reinvigorate the organization and the public's feelings about these products.

However, BB 10 recently suffered a serious setback, as the OS was declared insufficiently secure for essential government work by the British government. This may hurt BlackBerry's efforts for recovery, and once again serves a reminder of the necessity of investing in top-quality secure file sharing solutions.

Insecure ruling
The Guardian reported that the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), which serves as "the UK Government's National Technical Authority for Information Assurance," determined that BlackBerry Balance, a new feature of BB 10 which is designed to ensure security when these devices are used in BYOD deployments, failed to meet established standards for "restricted" communications.

Instead, the BB 10 was deemed acceptable for the "protect" level, which includes agencies not concerned with national security. At this designation, government agencies are advised to apply best practices to ensure security when leveraging BYOD solutions, as the device itself is not sufficiently secure.

Best practices
As The Register noted, it is rare for the U.K. government to grant the higher levels of security approval to commercial smartphones and other devices. Instead, it is typical for such high-level clearance to be reserved solely for specifically designed hardware solutions.

For government agencies, as well as businesses, that hope to leverage commercial mobile devices in BYOD scenarios, best practices are essential for ensuring that data sent, received and accessed via employee smartphones remains secure. Even smartphones that feature sophisticated security options are susceptible to data breaches when not used properly or in conjunction with sophisticated security tools.

That is why all firms facing these issues should pursue secure file sharing solutions that are both reliable and easy to use. By implementing such measures, firms can enjoy the flexibility and productivity benefits offered by BYOD without increasing the risk that employee actions will lead to lost or exposed information.