Feature Article

November 08, 2012

RIM's BlackBerry 10 Wins U.S. FIPS-2 Security Certification

Be still my heart! That isn't exactly a high tech term (it dates back to Homer), but we simply cannot think of any other term that even comes close to what we feel now that we've heard the news that Research in Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry 10 has been reviewed by the federal government and has been granted "coveted" FIPS-2 security certification. The certification means that federal government agencies will be able to deploy new BlackBerry hardware and the new enterprise management platform on which they run as soon as the new smartphones are launched. Really, we don't know what else to say.

RIM's head of security certifications, David MacFarlane, has the following to say: "Achieving FIPS certification for an entirely new platform in a very short period of time, and before launch, is quite remarkable." But it's rather nonsensical, in that if RIM is known for nothing else, it is known for its security capabilities. 

FIPS certification is granted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The certification ensures that a platform has achieved a high enough level of security to allow U.S. government agencies to safely receive, transmit and use what may often be highly sensitive information.

That RIM would gain FIPS-2 certification was a foregone conclusion as far as we are concerned. POTUS and team certainly would not be able to upgrade without it, and if there is one place BlackBerry remains fairly entrenched it is within the federal government. RIM did also note that this is the first time BlackBerry products have been FIPS certified ahead of launch, but again, there was a certain urgency attached to it - from both RIM's and the Fed's side to make it happen.

Last month, we noted that RIM had begun carrier tests on its new line of devices. This was good news in that it strongly suggests that at the very least there will be no surprises coming out of RIM that the products might be delayed yet again. For now, the new product and BlackBerry 10 OS launch remains on track for the end of January 2013.

All in all, the FIPS-2 certification counts as good news for RIM as well. But let's not forget how Homer's entire line reads:

"Be still my heart; thou hast known worse than this."

For RIM CEO Thorsten Heins it may very well be entirely on target given the last several years. But then, there is also the present. It is certainly no secret, for example, that the US Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement isn't among the federal agencies that are sticking with RIM. They are moving at least 17,000 employees to iPhones. The very first crack in RIM's security-based government stronghold can be traced back to mid-2010, when Good Technology (which back then - this is a bit of ancient mobile history - competed head to head with RIM on mobile email services) won a contract to allow the Army to use iPhones and Microsoft S-MIME-secured e-mail, displacing RIM in the process.

As we now conclude with every RIM article we write, the only way RIM is going to survive and recover is if it delivers amazing hardware in January 2013 - hardware that truly captures the eye of the consumer.

All else is fluff along the way to that launch day.




Edited by Brooke Neuman


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