The Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG) – the information assurance arm of GCHQ – has denied claims it has dismissed the new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system (OS) as too insecure for its use.
A report in the Guardian today claimed the new software and its BlackBerry Balance feature – providing a separate corporate desktop and a personal profile on one device – did not pass the stringent security tests needed to be used in government.
However, both the CESG and BlackBerry have denied the report, saying testing of the updated software has not even been completed.
"Discussions with BlackBerry are ongoing about the use of the BlackBerry 10 platform in government,” read the statement from CESG.
“We have not yet performed an evaluation of the security of the platform, but we expect to be issuing platform guidance in the summer. This will cover a number of platforms, including BlackBerry 10 (and the use of Balance).”
A BlackBerry spokesperson added: “BlackBerry has a long-established relationship with CESG and we remain the only mobile solution approved for use at restricted level when configured in accordance with CESG guidelines.
“This level of approval only comes following a process which is rigorous and absolutely necessary, given the highly confidential nature of the communications being transmitted.”
BlackBerry once reigned as the mobile of choice for the public sector, being the only software on the market to have government approval. However, last November Apple’s iPhone – running the company’s iOS operating system – was given the go-ahead to be used for sensitive emails within government, threatening its rival’s leadership position.
According to Whitehall sources, the government currently has around 20,000 BlackBerry devices in circulation.