Feeds

GCHQ imposes Whitehall iPhone ban

BlackBerry secures monopoly

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The image of ministers and their advisors hunched over their BlackBerries is set to become an enduring legacy of the New Labour era, as it's emerged that RIM will maintain its stranglehold on the government smartphone market under the coalition.

A Whitehall iPhone embargo is in place because encryption and electronics experts at the Cheltenham-based eavesdropping agency GCHQ have not so far approved the device for secure official business. Apple-fanciers will have to make do with a BlackBerry.

The effective ban is imposed by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG), GCHQ's most outward-facing unit. Its job is to test the security of communications for all parts of government.

"The only mobile telecoms or personal digital assistant devices that have been issued to Ministers of the Department [of Health] are BlackBerry devices," explained Conservative minister Simon Burns on Monday.

"The Department does not issue Apple iPhones to staff as these are not approved for Government use by the CESG. CESG is the Information Assurance arm of GCHQ which aims to protect and promote the vital interests of the United Kingdom by providing advice and assistance on the security of communications and electronic data."

It's unclear whether CESG has tested the iPhone and found it too insecure, or if Apple simply hasn't sought approval. Neither Cheltenham nor Cupertino is known for openness on such matters.

RIM is meanwhile free to brag about its end-to-end encrypted product and its CESG certification, won in 2006.

Government BlackBerries use Triple DES and Advanced AES for data in transit, and AES to scramble locally stored data. They are assured to communicate official material up to the Restricted level, where a breach is considered undesirable but not damaging to national security.

Not that any phone can be completely immune to security breaches. In 2008 it was reported that an aide to Gordon Brown had his BlackBerry stolen on a visit to Beijing. It is suspected he was the victim of a honeytrap operation by Chinese intelligence after picking up a local woman in a nightclub. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.